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Monday, April 02, 2007
When Darkness Falls. My review for This Week In Texas.
Director David DeCoteau offers horror B-movies with extremely homoerotic undertones, mostly by putting a lot of cute guys in situations together that involve wrestling, underwear, or bondage. Some of those movies are fun as guilty pleasures, but the ones I’ve seen never quite make the leap from gay overtones to gay.
Enter writer/director/producer Jeff London. London usually makes quiet dramas about gay characters who are struggling to deal with coming out or other issues. I’ve kept up with his work since And Then Came Summer. I especially love his movie Regarding Billy and never would have expected him to jump from that tender love story to a zombie flick. But here it is.
When Darkness Falls is classic, 1950s-style horror, relying on shadows and scares, while avoiding gore. However, unlike any movies from the 1950s, all the characters are gay. Despite the success of the gay slasher movie Hellbent and Here TV’s supernatural series Dante's Cove, gay horror movies are still rare. This one is an entertaining entry into a new genre.
Mike Dolan and Matt Austin play two young men who are just starting a relationship. Kevin (Dolan) invites his new boyfriend, Danny (Austin), to spend the weekend with him in the mountains. Kevin’s home there is not only secluded in the woods but also adjacent to a cemetery.
Kevin enjoys scaring Danny as often as possible. Unfortunately, Kevin’s romantic advances get stalled by the arrival of his friends, who also enjoy scary pranks. As the night progresses, the scares go from joking around to something more sinister.
London keeps the tone light and playful. The actors all bring charm and good looks to that fun atmosphere. Some of the acting needed more work—another parallel to David DeCoteau—but that’s normal with low-budget horror movies.
The DVD of When Darkness Falls also includes a second, shorter film, The Best of Care. This one involves two of the actors from the first film, Mike Dolan and Ron Petronicolos. Both actors also appeared in London’s movie The Last Year.
The Best of Care uses a much darker tone than When Darkness Falls. Bill lives with his sick boyfriend, caring for him around the clock. The tension finally overtakes him, leading to some disturbing plot twists.
Mark Krench scored both of this DVD’s films with appropriately creepy music. Scary movies rely heavily on the right music to lead up to the bumps in the night; Krench delivers, adding to the fun of this Saturday matinee double feature.
Filmmaker Jeff London grew up in California but recently relocated to West Texas and plans to later relocate to Hawaii. His first film, The Judgement Road, received a Best Drama Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in Hollywood.
Since London is a big science fiction fan, I hope he eventually procures the budget for a gay science fiction movie. We can find many gay science fiction books, and British television made a hit of the queer-themed scifi series Torchwood. The audience is apparently there, waiting.
Read more about When Darkness Falls and other Jeff London films at Guardian Pictures.
--Duane Simolke, author of the West Texas fiction collection The Acorn Stories and the gay-themed novel Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure.