Two men encounter each other on a dangerous gay cruising park trail, and quickly find themselves caught up in a deadly game of cat and mouse.
Set entirely in a picturesque forest this film captures both the majesty and the loneliness of the wilderness, and also reminds us of our own smallness and frailty in this world.
I really enjoyed the fact that this film was set in the 90s, which meant that the setting was pretty low tech. Having access to mobile phones would have made this film a lot harder to make believable, and I’m always a fan of a bit of 90s nostalgia.
It starts out with an oddball, Noah (played by Stephen Twardokus), hanging out in the woods, seemingly waiting for someone. He spots a handsome man and jumps up to follow him, bashing into a pair of men who curse at him and call him names.
Noah finds the man he’s looking for and strikes up a conversation. This handsome stranger, Patrick (JD Scalzo), is cagey with details while Noah tries to get to know him. They walk for a bit together and it soon becomes clear to us viewers that this forest trail is a cruising spot where gay men go to have anonymous sex in the woods.
They encounter a sign with missing people posters, and a park ranger telling them that the trail is closed due to some missing men. Despite Noah’s protestations that it’s not safe Patrick coerces him to continue up the trail. Patrick soon grows bored with Noah, realising that Noah isn’t there to cruise, and tells him he’s going to go find someone else.
Noah asks him to wait while he goes to urinate and this is where the action starts.
Risk of spoilers ahead:
Patrick grows alarmed when a man comes running past him from where Noah went, with blood all over his hands. He goes to find out what happened and finds Noah unconscious on the ground with a severe head wound.
The man with the bloody hands returns with a friend and we realise it’s the men who Noah bashed into early on. Thus starts a frenzied dash through the forest.
While the movie took a while to get going, it did have some nice twists and turns. Neither man is endearing to me; they both come off as assholes which I liked because I do enjoy a good anti-hero.
They continue to be chased over the course of the film and end up having to spend the night in the forest. During this night time things become unraveled and they turn on each other, accusing the other of having an agenda and going through personal belongings.
Noah finds out that the name Patrick originally gave was fake, and Patrick finds some photos of a man that looks somewhat familiar.
Nevertheless, the film ends with one of them dead after making a gruesome discovery.
As a queer person myself, I did note the subtle undertone of self loathing that often comes with internalised homophobia. This was something that was masterfully done as it wasn’t blatant but it was still key to the character’s motives and their development over the course of the film.
I did find parts of it very long and drawn out, and there were times when they were meant to be keeping quiet but made so much noise I’m sure the dead could hear them. Small things like this made it hard to concentrate on at times but overall this movie was decent.
I was taken by surprise by a couple of the plot twists (that I won’t spoil for you) which is a rare occurrence as I normally have movies sussed out from the start.
Considering that the majority of screen time was just Noah and Patrick I think the actors did a wonderful job. Their characters were believable and they developed together in a nice rhythm.
Overall a good film: great dialogue, good cinematography, great atmosphere and good character development. Slow in parts but ended in a nice crescendo.
Check out the trailer here:
Gorephile. Singer. "Lady".