Judge David Johnson warns you: this is not the sequel to October Sky.
Love is not patient. Love is not kind.
Billed as a "horror show," this Tempe release isn't so much a shriek-fest as it is a kind of "Gay-tal Attraction," a blending of a coming-out story with thriller, spiced up with a touch of psycho knife-killer thrown in for good measure.
Facts of the Case
The film opens with a look into the life of Corin (Sean Michael Lambrecht), a successful, good-looking business professional engaged in a semi-rocky relationship with Jake (Jeff Dylan Graham), who's fiery and protective. But maybe he has reason to be protective.
Enter Elliot (Jerod Howard), new to Corin's company, recently engaged, and brutally shy. As Elliot starts to hang around Corin more and more and is exposed to Corin's world and lifestyle, he begins to develop a crush on his boss. He's confused, but knows he's falling in love with Corin, much to the chagrin of his fiancée, friends, and family.
Elliot's infatuation, fueled by Corin's rejection, Jake's suspicions, and his loved ones' scorn, soon transforms into something more uncontrollable—and deadly. Consumed with obsession, Elliot discards his shyness and embraces a darker persona—one who will stop at nothing at getting what he wants, even if it means kidnapping, forceful bondage, and lots of stabbing to death.
October Moon is not a horror film. Nor is it your typical Tempe film. The former might be a downer to some of you, but the latter is a compliment. The film runs about 10 minutes south of two hours, but the entirety of its horror aspect is limited to about the final 15. Up until that point, don't bank on anything remotely gory/scary/axe-wielding.
At its heart, October Moon is a gay drama, a lengthy coming-out story focusing on one guy and his insecurities when confronted with an obsession he can't control. The bulk of the film (read: everything that happens before those final 15 minutes or so) details Elliot's slow-burn closet-exiting process, which culminates in a dark twist at the end. As such, you'll get loads of dialogue, some heated confrontations between Elliot and his loved ones, a few dance club scenes, even a profoundly ugly man dressed in drag offering valuable life advice. Essentially, it's an after school special on speed.
So that's pretty much what awaits you with this disc. The packaging is a tad misleading with its sinister, horror-looking cover art, but the synopsis on the back of the case sums up the proceedings pretty well. Again, not really a horror film this.
Now that being said, I have zero reluctance in saying that this is one of the better films I've seen come from Tempe, an ultra-low budget distribution company known for unloading independent splatter films raging in quality from "big-time suck-o" to "passable." Director Jason Paul Collum, himself a gay man who notes that he's patterned some of the film's narrative after his own life, has offered a well-executed piece of filmmaking. He's got a good eye, and his scenes look as professional as you'd see in higher-budgeted stuff. And when the horror bits start to churn along, he displays a nice talent for suspense.
Likewise, the acting throughout is solid, especially considering two of his primary actors—Howard and Lambrecht—are newcomers. This is easily the best acting I've ever seen in a Tempe flick.
However, two things irked me about the film. One, it was a bit too long. Twenty minutes off would have suited it better, as it's near 120-minute runtime tends to drag. Which segues into my next point: while the film is well-acted, the extensive dialogue scenes grew tedious. There was an awful lot of relationship back and forth between Elliot and his fiancée Marti, Elliot and Corin, Corin and Jake, Elliot and Jake, Jake and Marti, and Jake and Corin. After a while, October Moon felt like The Real World: October Moon. The reduced-to-cameo bits of horror didn't help any either.
Technically, October Moon looks about average for Tempe releases: a full frame treatment of varying degrees of quality (with struggling dark scenes) and a serviceable 2.0 stereo track. Collum headlines an insightful commentary track with some of his cast members, and a solid 10 minute making-of feature, sporting interviews with the cast and crew, is a nice addition.
I don't know what the market is for "gay horror," but October Moon, even with its minimal amount of scares, should be considered as a player in the genre; it's well-done and represents a serious (if dark) take on the coming-out process for one screwed-up a-hole. Just know that this film is like 85 percent relationship drama and 15 percent horror.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Tempe Video
• Cast and Crew Commentary
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