Guest House Films has released a new collection of six distinguished gay-interest short films, and cleverly named it “Black Briefs”. All the short films have a rather dark element to them (“Black briefs”-- get it?!)… but aside from that, they are all widely and wildly diverse in nature. You have, for example, the searing psychodrama of Hong Khaou’s “Spring”, the gore-nography of Greg Ivan Smith’s “Remission”, and the dark comedy of Camille Carida’s “Winner Takes All”. That’s just the first half!
“Spring” features two blandly attractive British men (the inexperienced sub [Chris O’Donnell] and the older dom [Jonathan Keane]) who meet up to negotiate an S&M scene. It’s a thrill to watch these two gents deviate from their… well, “oh-so-British” style of politeness into their role play personas when they finally wind up in their makeshift dungeon. Like an authentic S&M scene, the vibe in this one is titillating, sexy, and just a little bit dangerous (Or, as we learn, maybe MORE than a little bit dangerous?…) “Spring” manages to pack a wallop of suspense and tension into its 13 minute running time, although the open ending leaves the viewer wanting more. Next up is “Remission”, in which a middle-aged man (Michael Fitzpatrick) is alone in his country house with a dead cell phone as he waits to learn the results of his recent biopsy for cancer. He begins to suspect that something darkly dangerous is going on. If you are easily scared by the idea of being alone in the woods at night, a la “Blair Witch Project”, then don’t watch this one alone… and if you have any trace of nosocomephobia (Look it up…), then don’t watch it at all. “Remission” is disturbing simply for the sake of being disturbing. The final line of dialogue, intentionally or not, offers a “Touché!“ at one of the GLBT community’s most popular new (and quickly becoming overused…) catchphrases-- and only those viewers with the most deliciously sick senses of humor will likely appreciate it. “Winner Takes All” features an impossibly handsome and equally impossibly vain performance artist named Ryker (Gavyn Michaels) who organizes a boxing match between his two boyfriends: the urban trendster artist (Hunter Lee Hughes) and the Latino muscle boy (Adrian Quinonez). The winner gets not only gets Ryker’s love but also the promise of monogamy. Gay “It Boy” Alec Mapa plays Ryker’s “slave”, who oversees the festivities with all the guilty glee as if he were watching the finale of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”. The audience will likely feel the same glee with this irreverently funny short film… although I can’t help but wonder if I might have been able to guess the ending if I was a little smarter.
“Promise”, the best short film in the compilation, opens up with glimpses of a wedding cake, a newspaper announcing “Gay Marriage Ban Overturned”, and a framed photo of two happy, model-type guys: Stu (Korken Alexander) and Chris (Rick Cornette). Get the idea? Yes, there’s a gay wedding in the works. Unfortunately, certain instances of bad behavior come to light on the eve of the big event (One of the lines from the film is “Did you fuck him in our bed?!” Guess yet?…), and threaten to disrupt the festivities. Some fine acting and some genuinely creative directorial touches by Lalo Vasquez really boost this one, although I admit that I did feel kind of guilty about enjoying the film’s rather explicit and somewhat discomforting climax. The slasher-themed “Video Night” is the shortest-- six minutes-- of the films on the compilation, and to the credit of the directors (Jim Hansen and Jack Plotnick, who also stars in the film), the short manages to be both wickedly funny and outright wicked at the same time-- making it the most “bang“ per minute. It made me lock my windows after watching it…
“Black Briefs” concludes with Christopher Banks‘ “Communication”, which tells the story of a young Orthodox Jewish student Jacob (Rudi Vodanovich) who unexpectedly inherits the estate of his mentor, an older British gent named Andrew ( (Alexander Campbell). This one is more in the genre of “drama” than the others, and some viewers may be left wishing there was more character development or more questions answered. Still, this genuinely unique love story of sorts will definitely keep you thinking for a long time afterward, and the acting is excellent.
For viewers with a desire for a truly experimental film experience, this compilation offers the equivalent of a cinematic cocktail hour: a little taste of everything, with some very cool company as well. And aren’t cocktail parties a lot more fun than those long, boring sit-down dinners anyway? “Black Briefs” is now available on DVD. Visit www.GuestHouseFilms.com for more info!