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Case Number 26623: Small Claims Court

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TLA Releasing // 2013 // 80 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // November 27th, 2013

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum wonders why gay guys camping means somebody gets a roofie!

Editor's Note

Our review of Tumbledown (2015) (Blu-ray), published May 12th, 2016, is also available.

The Charge

There are three sides to every story.

The Case

Tom Verow has established a reputation as the "once and future king of digital video" as well as a pioneer in queer cinema. He has adapted Dennis Cooper's controversial kinked-out novel Frisk and even gotten behind the lens of a porno or two starring German guys all too willing to take a fist.

Tumbledown is very graphic offering full frontal nudity, and simulated sex that feels a lot like the real thing happening before you. It's meant to be a dramatic thriller showing a story from three sides. The three different experiences offered to the viewer are hard to swallow but titillating.

Jay (director Verow himself) meets bartender Rick (Brad Hallowell, Vacationland) and invites him to visit his cabin where his lover Mike (Brett Faulkner) will be. They engage in copious amounts of drugs, sex, and then the unspeakable happens. One of the partiers drugs and rapes the other, and videotapes the act. The crime is on videotape, and it ends up in the victim's hands. Thus we are set up to see the act of violence from three unique angles: the sodomized, the aggressor, and the witness. As an audience, we need to decide what is right and what is wrong, and if any of this is actually sexy or just too disturbing to condone.

The problem here is rape is rape, and you can't sugarcoat it. We're meant to feel sympathetic for all three characters by the end, but the rapist has a hard time garnering any sympathy at all. That's where the drama falls short. We've made up our mind that two of the guys are in the right and one is definitely in the wrong, and nothing will change that. So there is no true dramatic fulcrum here for the story to pivot on. The script needs to be sharper and more on-point, but it just is not. The actors seem game and up to it, the camera work is fine, and in the end, it's the writing that bogs down the feature.

The DVD offers the digital film in a fine format. Detail is good, and sound works well. Extra features include a treasure trove of deleted scenes and an ending that might have actually been more effective had it been on the feature instead of the one we got. It's a good presentation of the work, and it all works well on home video. No complaints here on the transfer, and the extras make things more interesting with the different takes and a new conclusion.

So you need to decide if you like soft-core pornography with moral conundrums. If you do, then Tumbledown will be right up your alley, and making a night of it will require plenty of popcorn and lube. The good news is the actors are good, and they all look extremely great with their clothes on the floor. I didn't mind seeing the naked bodies writhing for all they were worth during the extended sex scenes. Each cast member is fantasy worthy, and the skin show is well worth it.

Even so, rape is repugnant, and I have a hard time finding it sexy when we see one character take advantage of another when he is passed out. It angered me, and made it tough for me to see three sides to this sordid tale, which really is evil in its intentions. There is no justification for the act, and it made things uncomfortable and icky. The longest sex scene is the one you will question the most, and that is maybe the whole point to Tumbledown. It climaxes in a non-sexy sex scene that will leave you wondering why you kind of feel turned on and wanting a shower simultaneously.

The Verdict

Guilty of committing a crime, and it should be punished. Rape is never to be condoned nor celebrated.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 69

Perp Profile

Studio: TLA Releasing
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Drama
• Erotic
• Gay
• Independent
• Romance

Distinguishing Marks

• Extended/Deleted Scenes
• Alternate Ending


• IMDb

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