VOD Review - Black Briefs

A scene from "Spring" by Hong Khaou
Guest House Films collected a group of six, short films and released it as one bundle on DVD back in 2012. This October, it made that bundle available on VOD via Vimeo. Each of the short films is 20 minutes or less. Each has a dark edge to it. In fact, they're all practically horror films. It's just story after story of people doing bad or brutal things to others.

The first film is Spring by Hong Khaou. Khaou directed a feature this year called Lilting, which to me is one of the best of 2014. However, Khaou directed Spring three years prior. The 13-minute short plays on completely different and opposite instincts. It's a story of two British men, one younger and one older who engage in an act of S&M and bondage. It's disturbing but never is harsh as it could have been, and is less about the act than it is ultimately about trust.

The second film is Remission by Greg Ivan Smith. Smith directed some very notable films. The first of which was The Back Room, in which he also starred and he was fantastic. The movie itself was some kind of brilliant. Remission isn't quite that. It's essentially a 14-minute nightmare realizing a middle-age man's worse fears about a disease he has. Yet, Smith veers into slasher film territory, making the piece feel too hackneyed, but Smith as a filmmaker is still one to watch.

The third film is Winner Takes All by Camille Carida. Not too unlike Spring, it uses violence as an expression of desire or proof of desire. It perhaps has the least cynical ending of all the short films here. Despite the almost Broadway theatricality of it, it's gay men exhibiting all the masculinity of two heavyweights in a boxing ring. The 17-minute movie features the uber-masculine and uber-muscular Adrian Quinonez and Alec Mapa (Half & Half and Ugly Betty), the famous gay comedian in a very funny role.

The fourth film is Promise by Lalo Vasquez, and it is by far the best of the short films here. It stars Korken Alexander and Rick Cornette as Stu and Chris respectively, a gay couple about to get married. In fact, it's the eve of their wedding and Chris finds out that Stu has had an affair. The consequences of this revelation spirals their relationship, and push both to extremes. The performances from both by the end just become spectacular and edgy to watch.

The fifth film is Video Night by Jim Hansen and Jack Plotnick who both act in the film. It's a 6-minute, found-footage genre piece. Simply, it's murder and mayhem. It's not gory though. Plotnick went on to direct Space Station 76 this year, a kitschy, anachronistic, sci-fi spoof that is fantastic. This film is proof Plotnick has a knack with tackling genre pieces in a fresh or unique way.

The sixth film is Communication by Christopher Banks, a filmmaker from New Zealand. This one is a 20-minute film that's less dark as it's beautifully elegiac, as it focuses on the relationship between a young Jewish boy and his teacher in the wake of the teacher's death. It's the second-best of all the short films here.

Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains graphic sexuality, nudity, language and violence.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 30 mins.
Available on Vimeo.


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