Short Film Review – In The Dark

By OckyDub | Posted Jan 10 2018 | 6 Comments  

I usually don’t watch gay short films or web-series due to their typical clichés and stereotypes such as:

  • A group of sassy friends, with the main protagonist looking for love with over the top acting and shade.
  • Masculinity only being represented in the form of a ‘top’ whose presence is a goal to be obtained.
  • The characters are usually in some type of abusive of dysfunctional relationship.
  • Because I’m tired of morose gay bashing and homophobic bullying tropes .
  • In addition to poor writing and production.

Ryan Beene’s In The Dark manages to avoid most (not all) of these clichés. Beene wrote the short film and also stars. Beene plays Eric, a student at a university who shares a class and works with Austin (played by Daniel Saunders) at the library.   

Austin (a closeted jock) purposely strikes up a conversation with Eric (who is out and proud) while the two are working one evening. They begin to confide in one another and the two form a secret intimate relationship. Conflict arises because Eric grows tired of their secret and wants Austin to be out like him.

The overly all production value and cinematography is cool but there were a couple of things (plot wise) I had to give a slight ‘side-eye’ too.

*Minor spoilers below*

If Austin is closeted, why is he willing to hang out intimately in parks during daylight hours and around campus with Eric? This doesn’t coincide with the thinking of a closeted man. Also, when I was in college, people were nosey as fuck. How is Eric able to spend the night on multiple occasions in Austin’s dorm room and no one notice?

I did begin to be annoyed by Eric’s character. He comes off as very naggy and needy. Eric knows Austin’s situation (Austin is closeted due to repressive family dynamics) going in and chooses to make that commitment. He then becomes disenchanted because Austin doesn’t want to openly date him.

I do like how Austin’s character is portrayed. His acting is somewhat believable and his masculine disposition seems natural and unforced; unlike many other men in Black gay web-series or short films. Nonetheless somebody needs to get Daniel Saunders some chap stick or lip balm. He licked his lips more than LL Cool J throughout the short.

I’ve never been in agreement with the side of Gay Culture that dictates or pushes other non-heterosexuals to come out as quickly as possible; especially by those whose disposition never allowed them to be in the closet in the first place. It should go without saying that not all circumstances and environments are conducive with one’s ‘coming out’ and “living in their truth”.  

Over all I did enjoy In The Dark and would recommend it for viewing. Check out the short below and feel free to share your thoughts.



About the Author

Octavius is a founder and editor of Cypher Avenue. He's here to help speak for us and show the world that masculine gay / bisexual men of color are not a part of the stereotypical gay normal that is seen and fed to the masses. No...we are a distinct breed, filled with character and pride. Cypher Avenue is here to show the world how we are different.

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6 Comments Feel Free To Join The Cypher.

  1. hannibal
    hannibal | January 11th, 2018

    I’m not going to watch it because of the thumbnail alone. However, I’m curious as to why you say abusive/dysfunctional relationships are a trope. I’ve really only seen one show tackle that and that was Red Skin and it was actually rather good. Oh, and Kaldrick King, but you dont be addressing that.

  2. jusrawb
    jusrawb | January 11th, 2018

    I've watched this a while ago. I actually really enjoyed the story. How they would chill in the dorm and on the yard wasn't exactly realistic but I feel like it was highlighting his "Fck it I'm feeling this dude I don't care what anybody say" attitude he was getting to. Which I think our reality should be like (wishful thinking).

  3. OckyDub
    OckyDub | January 11th, 2018

    Comment from a FB / Cypher Ave follower I didn't catch or think about…

    "I see your "stereotypical gay film" checklist, and raise you one "gay white savior" plot-line. "


  4. OckyDub
    OckyDub | January 11th, 2018

    I absolutely understand and respect your decision.

  5. Cyrus-Brooks
    Cyrus-Brooks | January 12th, 2018

    Woohoo, black gay guy paired with a white gay guy. Never seen that before in gay media. :ravetho::gucci:
    That stereotypical image alone is enough to make me not want to watch it.

  6. over-it
    over-it | January 15th, 2018

    I pretty much agree with you Ocky regarding your take on this short film. I think that eric’s character was way over the top, overly intrusive, and insensitive to Austin’s feelings about coming out. It was clear from the onset that Austin is not out, and was probably perceived as straight. So for Eric to ultimately get upset with Austin after spending some intimate time with him to me was immature, one sided, and unfair. And for Eric to assert that he understood Austin’s position in life because he had gone through a similar situation is absolutely absurd. In general, white males that are gay have an easier time managing coming out versus a black masculine leaning man who is attempting to come out. The black community looks at gay-ness as a disease that should be eradicated, and subsequently those who carry the disease should be terminated. And especially for masculine leaning men who decide to come out of the closet, their gay-ness is the worst thing on Earth. So again, for Eric to try and make it seem as if he related to austin was a little bizarre to me. Um I really hate the ending. I think that Austin should have moved on with his life and not have felt forced to come out. Lastly for Eric’s character, to your point Ocky, to be so unattractive, scrawny, and effeminate he sure was cocky. I’m still trying to figure out what Austin saw in him. And doesn’t that part of this short film take us back to the hetero normative idea of masculine/feminine stereotypes? I guess Eric came off to me as kind of arrogant, when physically he had no reason to be. On the other h and, Austin is a beautiful black man and I would definitely date a dude like him after seeing this short. Overall I give this short an A-, and that’s only because Austin carried it with his natural portrayal. Thanks for sharing I Ocky!

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