The scores of writer-directors releasing the current flood of (Dante’s Cove-inspired?) gay horror films on the direct-to-DVD market should be forced to watch Lou Peterson’s In the Blood before they’re allowed to put pen to paper.
Matching a great hook with a strong cast, professional cinematography, tight script, and sexuality that is both hot and plot-advancing, In the Blood is a textbook in gay suspense.
Tyler Hanes plays Cassidy Clarke, a college senior whose repressed gay urges seem to be related to a spate of nosebleeds and nightmarish precognitive flashes.
During one flash, he sees his freshman sister lying on the ground covered in blood. With a serial killer attacking blond virgins on campus, Cassidy finds himself in a race against time to figure out who is going to kill his sister.
A lesser screenwriter would have jumped right into the murder mystery, but Peterson puts the character-developing gay plot first, allowing the suspense to build slowly.
As Hanes plots his first — and what he hopes to be his only — same-sex experience with a hustler ably played by Carlos Valencia, we see the first cracks in his college-jock facade start to show.
Hanes’ scenes with Valencia aren’t just mid-horror-film wank sessions. They play into the plot of his sexual awakening while also advancing the plot about his psychic powers.
Most important, both actors are talented enough to carry their scenes together as dramatic moments for each character, which goes a long way to helping overlook the cheesiness of the sex-related-psychic-powers plot.
If you’re going to have a sex scene in a movie, make it important and commit to it.
It’s not a perfect movie. Hanes’ girlfriend character disappears for 50 minutes, by which point I’d forgotten she existed. At a slight 82 minutes, the film could have actually stood a little more space to develop their relationship as a wrench in Hanes’ sexual discovery.
But In the Blood is a fun film and well worth a watch. It’ll be interesting to see what Peterson follows this up with.