Mysterious, suspenseful, and darkly humorous, “The Dark Place” is a new gay thriller from Writer/Director Jody Wheeler. It had a smash screening tonight at the aGLIFF festival with the Director, Executive Producer Steve Parker, and stars Timo Descamps and Sean Paul Lockhart attending the screening with Q&A after. Let’s take a look at the story:
Keegan Dark (Blaise Godbe Lipman) travels with his boyfriend Wil (Timo Descamps) on a surprise visit to see his long estranged mother on the family vineyards. The estate has produced Dark brand wine for generations and when they enter the family home they believe it to be empty. Suddenly, Keegan is attacked by a young man who turns out to be Jake (Sean Paul Lockhart), Keegan’s previously unknown step brother. Keegan’s mother has met a new man (his father and brother were killed in a car accident) and quickly married him, bringing him and his son to live on the estate. Keegan is immediately suspicious of the pair (especially the antagonistic Jake) and his photographic memory begins to notice details about them that don’t add up. He voices his concerns, but his issues with his mother lead her to dismiss him. When suspicious mishaps begin to occur, Keegan must unravel who these interlopers are and just what do they want with his mother.
“The Dark Place” is a great blend of mystery elements and Scream-like twists. There are many layers to the plot’s riddle, but it was never so convoluted that the audience was lost. The Dark’s and their estate are a pretty convincing wealthy family; the snappy banter between Keegan and his mother remind me a little of Ryan Phillippe in “Cruel Intentions”. Timo Descamps’ Wil balances out their entitled madness with heavy doses of charm (I was surprised to learn during the Q&A that Timo is apparently Belgian, I had him pegged as all-California). Sean Lockhart is absolutely menacing as Jake, playing him with a sadistic intelligence and moving his head in such a way that he had the air of an evil ventriloquist dummy. It was quite a lot of fun to watch him oscillate between helpful stepson and malicious demon whenever he was alone with Keegan.
“The Dark Place” had a place of honor in the festival and it’s easy to see why. This is one not to miss as I’m sure it will turn up in other fests in the coming months. The film is intriguing and more than a little sexy, catch it if you can.
Adam Ruhl is a writer and life long Cinephile. He is the Executive
Cinema Editor of Pop Culture Beast’s Austin branch; covering festivals,
conventions, and new releases. When not filing reports, Adam can be
found stalking Alamo Drafthouse Programmers for leads on upcoming
DrafthouseFilms titles. Adam once blocked Harry Knowles entrance to a
theater until he was given extra tickets to a Roman Polanski movie.