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.