Sep 24, 2013

Dream Boy: Good Old Boys and Ghosts in Love

In Dream Boy (2008), it's the 1970s, and shy, intellectual high schooler Nathan (Stephan Bender), who looks like Shaun Cassidy, moves with his mousy mother and sexually abusive father to the small town of St. Francisville, Louisiana.  He falls in love with Good Old Boy Roy (Maximillian Roeg).  Neither has been in a same-sex relationship before; neither is aware that gay people exist.

That's the plot of every gay coming of age movie ever made, including several on my list of 10 Gay Movies I Loved and 10 Gay Movies I Hated.

But here, for a change of pace, the Big Bad isn't homophobia -- although the two experience a lot of that -- but jealousy.

Dad tries to control Nathan's life, and feels threatened by his new relationship.

Roy's closeted buddy Burke (Randy Wayne, below) wanted Roy for himself, and feels threatened by his new relationship.

Nathan leaves home to escape from the abuse; Dad threatens to find him.

He moves in with Roy; Burke fumes.

Then, for some reason, Nathan, Roy, Burke, and his rebound boyfriend Randy (Owen Beckman) go on a camping trip to a deserted plantation on the bayou.

The supernatural takes over, with omens, spirits, and chants.  Spoiler alert: Burke, maybe channelling Nathan's father or Satan or both, rapes Nathan, then murders him.

Yes, the sweet, innocent gay guy dies.  But not because he's gay.  That's very important.

After the funeral, Roy sees Nathan on the school bus, smiling at him.  Maybe he's a ghost.  Maybe, Christlike, he's risen from the dead.  Maybe he never died at all, and the camping trip and aftermath was all a dream.  The ending is ambiguous.

Stephan Bender is best known for Superman Returns (2006), where he is on screen for about five minutes as the young Clark Kent.

Maximillian Roeg (left), who is actually British, not Good Old Boy, has a few more screen roles, including the thriller Maneater (2009). 

 Randy Wayne is the biggest star of the group, and the only one who has specified a sexual identity: he's "straight but not narrow."