Apr 23, 2022

"Heartstopper": My Heart Didn't Stop During this Sweet, Innocent, Dull Tale of Gay Boys in Love


, on Netflix, is a British teen drama based on a graphic novel by Alice Oseman, about two high school boys in love.  I hope it won't be like the "boys in love" movies of my generation, all angst and loneliness.  

Scene 1: School bell.  Artsy split screens of an ecstatic teen walking down the halls.  Tinsel is coming down, so it's after winter break.  He sends a text to Ben, no doubt his boyfriend: "Can't wait to see you," and heads to the deserted library for their rendezvous.  But Ben snuffs him off.  Uh-oh, I smell a breakup.  The headmaster announces that there will be new students in all the form groups (classes).  Foreshadowing! 

The boy, named Charlie Spring (Joe Locke), registering for classes.  The teacher (Alan Turkington, top) assigns him to Hamlet House, with Nicholas (Kit Connor, left).  He's in Year 11, a year older than Charlie, and a star rugby player.  "Ugh!  Sounds awful.  I hate him al...ready....um...wow, he's hot!"  They have a shy falling-in-love conversation while animated leaves swirl around them.  I associate falling leaves with mortality, death, and decay...do they mean something else in Britain?  

Scene 2:  Exterior shot of the Truman School -- not at all impressive, no ivy or Doric columns in sight.  Charlie heads to the music room to see boyfriend Ben (Sebastian Croft, left).  They ask about each other's Christmases, and smooch.  Wait -- didn't they see each other or at least text during the holidays?  Apparently not.  Ben is in the closet: "Don't tell anyone about this!"  

Deeply closeted: when they pass in the hall, Charlie says "Hi," and Closeted Ben freaks out: "Why are you talking to me?  I don't know you."  If you don't want people to think you are dating, try a nonchalant return "Hi."

Meanwhile Charlie and Rugby Star Nick are doing cute things like trying to get through the door at the same time and accidentally splattering paint on each other.

Scene 3:  Lunch outside -- in January!  It looks freezing.  Charlie is with his buds, Isaac (Tobie Donovan) and Tao (William Gao).  A fourth member of their clique, Elle, has transferred to an all-girl school after coming out as transgender.  They discuss who to invite to take her place.  

Charlie: "How about Nick?"  

Tao: "No, he's a Golden Boy and we're outcasts.  He'd never go for it.  Besides, he's friends with all of your old bullies."

Charlie: "He's different.  He's...nice."  Don't you mean hot?

Scene 4:  Higgs Girls' School.  Elle at lunch.  She gets a text from Tao discussing Charlie's obsession with the Rugby Star.   "What?  No!  He always goes after these unattainable Greek Gods, and then when they reject him, he's crushed!"    

Pan out: Elle is occupying a table by herself.  Everyone is ignoring her at the new school.

Scene 5: Legs get off a bus. Oh, it's Charlie.  Why that weird entrance?  And I thought this was a boarding school.  If he lives at home, why was he put in Hamlet House?  

Charlie has a make-out session with Closeted Ben in the deserted library, and then goes to the art room to hide from his friends during lunch.  The teacher wants to know why.  "Because my boyfriend pretends not to know me in public."  Teacher suggests talking to his friends.  "No, they wouldn't understand.  They're straight."  Then talk to Ben about your feelings.  

Scene 6: Heading across campus to discuss his feelings, , Charlie sees Closeted Ben...kissing a girl.  Charlie is just a little bit of downlow side action!  Dump him, right in front of the girlfriend!  Instead, Charlie just sends a breakup text without saying why.  

Scene 7: Charlie eating corn flakes.  Sister wants to know what's wrong.  "I broke up with my boyfriend." "Was he a knob?"  "Yes."  So this isn't a boarding school.  

On the bus, they discuss the kind of guy Charlie wants: "Somebody who's nice...and kind...and tall....."  And hung to his knees....sorry.  Although these are high schoolers, no one seems to have any sexual thoughts.  It's all about holding hands and kissing.  

When the bus arrives, Charlie brushes the condensation from the rain-soaked window and sees...Nick.  A little too much symbolism there, innit?

Scene 8:  In gym class, Charlie runs around the outdoor track.  He's much faster than anyone else in the class.  Rugby Star Nick notices and thinks he'd be a good rugby player. 

He stops by Charlie's locker to ask him to join the team.  Charlie imagines that he's confessing his love, again with the swirling leaves.  "Aren't I too small and weak for rugby?"  "No, it's just a school team, not the pros.  Being scrawny isn't a problem."  

Scene 9:  Charlie's friends think the idea is dumb.  "You're going to get battered by giant, moronic rugby lads just to impress a guy!"  

At the door to the locker room, Charlie overhears the players complaining about Rugby Star Nick's invitation: "Ok, he's nice, but we want to win.  Does he even like sports?  He's gay!"  When he comes in, they stop, embarrassed, and begin undressing (no beefcake).

Scene 10: Rugby practice.  The other guys are ten times bigger and wider than Charlie, but Nick says there's no problem.  "Just try to tackle me."  He does.

Montage of Charlie entering the locker room (no beefcake) and being bad at rugby.  When he finally catches a ball, the guys all cheer and hug him. Due to Nick's one-on-one coachng, he gets better, and is accepted by the team. Why is Nick so adamant about helping Charlie?  No doubt he's interested, but not ready to admit it.

Eventually Charlie's regular friends feel abandoned. Elle stops by the school and looks concerned.

Scene 10: Closeted Ben alone the music room, being sinister.  He texts Charlie to meet him after rugby practice.  Rugby Star Nick sees him going that direction and is suspicious.  

At their meeting, Ben gets it all wrong: "You're afraid of us getting caught."  But Charlie notes that he's out to everyone!  They argue.  Ben yells that Charlie is too ugly to get anyone full time, so he'd better settle for a downlow boyfriend.  Charlie still rejects him.  Ben begins a sexual assault -- well, kissing him against his will -- but Nick intervenes and saves the day.  Ben skulks off.  

Charlie and Nick walk out together and say goodbye.  

Scene 11:
Nick's Mum is driving him home.  I thought he was walking?  He stares into space.  Meanwhile, at the bus stop, Charlie tries to figure out how to text him a "thank you."

In the car, Nick gets Charlie's text: "Thank you x."  He is startled.  Then he smiles, and animated birds fly around his head. No leaves?  The end.

Beefcake: None.  The actors playing Nick and Charlie are just 18, young enough to be real high schoolers.  

Other Sights:  None.  Maybe I'm just used to the baroque palaces and glass-and-steel megaplexes that pass for high schools in other teen dramas, but the Truman School is surprisingly banal.

Heterosexism:  None.  It's an all-boy's school.  There is no locker room talk about girls.  I understand that Tao will start dating Elle, which is heterosexual but still LGBTQ.  

My Grade:  This is a sweet, innocent drama, with no major crises, no paranormal, no dark secrets, and not much of interest to anyone over age 18.  I'm actually more invested in Elle's problems at her new school than in Nick and Charlie's inevitable romance.  

Apr 22, 2022

"How to Survive Being Single": If You're Rich, Famous, and Straight


The icon for Amazon Prime's How to Survive Being Single depicts three couples trying to strangle each other, two boy-girl and one boy-boy.   It says "Second Season," although I've never seen it on Prime before.

Ok, they decided to retitle a series that's been popping up a lot: Como Sobrevivir Solo.  In English or Spanish, the title is a misnomer: this series is about making a film.   I figured, might as well start at the beginning, so I watched Season 1, Episode 1, "Dumped."

Scene 1:  We start with a bang.  Sebastian (Sebastian Zurita) on a stage yelling "Go fuck yourself!" at a roomful of reporters.  He jumps into the crowd and assaults one.

Five Hours Before: Sebastian in his apartment, practicing: he's going to propse to his girlfriend at the press conference tonight.  Meanwhile, Fish (Fabrizio Santini) feeds the dog that he's babysitting for Yanet, whom he just started to date.  Yanet is a boy's name - Fish must be gay.  Nope, he displays a photo of a woman. 

Sebastian has four other friends, two boys and two girls, standing in boy-girl pairs.  So far it's heterosexuals all the way down.  

Scene 2: 
Night.  A limo drives through the deserted streets of Mexico City.  Inside, two boy-girl couples, Sebastian,  Fish with the dog, and an unattached woman.  Fabiana tells Daniel (Roberto Flores. ;eft), "She's a lesbian."  He scoffs.  "Lesbians don't exist! ."  

But Fabiana protests that she was one for over a year, before she decided to turn straight again.  Ok, you can choose to turn gay, and then turn back?  That's a homophobic myth.

To prove that she's straight, Daniel asks the woman if she wants pot or mescaline.  She wants both.  "Classic lesbian!" Fabiana cries in triumph. 

They pick up Sebastian's girlfriend, Lucia.  The boy-girl couples are all holding hands and getting lovey-dovey.  There's a split-second scene of two boys hugging, but I can't tell who they are.  

Scene 3: A movie guy announces the 10th anniversary of Sebastian's movie, Despecha ("Dumped").   Now in 3-D.  They have premieres of movies that have been out for ten years?  We see a scene from Despecha 2, mostly Sebastian kissing Lucia.

The mc tells us that the movie was terrible, and Sebastian hasn't done anything since.  Wait -- did we flash to the future?

Sebastian and company, now four boy-girl couples holding hands, arrive at the big premiere and get mobbed by fans.  His agent tells him that the market for rom-com heartthrobs is overcrowded, so he'll never work again.  You tell your client this at his big premiere?

Sebastian is interviewed -- "What have you been doing for the last ten years?" "I'm...er...working on some...er...projects."  Is this the premiere of the movie or the 10th year celebration?

The friends discuss their lack of success - living on Dad's money, continually being "between jobs," working on "some...er...projects."  

Scene 4:
Sebastian's three male friends -- Fish, Daniel, and Gonzalo (Octavio Hinojosa) -- in a stairwell.  Fish is yelling into the telephone: "This is the best day of my life.  Don't fuck it up!"  Wait -- I thought it was the best day of Sebastian's life, and Fish was just part of his entourage.  Apparently the mariachi band is late, which will ruin Sebastian's proposal.  

Switch to all the boy-girl couples watching the movie and kissing.  Daniel's girlfriend asks him to "whip it out" so she can perform fellatio.  This draws the attention of an usher, who tells them to tone it down.  So she drags him into the men's room and orders "Take off your clothes!"  Gross.

In the women's room, Fabiana asks Sebastian's other female friend,  the one she thinks is a lesbian, "Do you like Gonzalo?" She does.  But be careful: Gonzalo treats women like objects  "to play with or bet on."  "He's planning to fuck you in the ass, and post it on the internet."  The non-lesbian is shocked: "We're not in college.  We don't do that."  They decide to get even.

Back in the theater, the movie is over, so Sebastian and Lucia stand, bow, and kiss.  

Scene 5:  It's time for the post-movie questions and answers.  Everyone returns to the theater.  Fish is with a mysterious man that we haven't seen before.  Sebastian begins the marriage proposal.  Hundreds of people gasp and begin filming him.  Lucia is shocked.  Before she can answer, a journalist shows a video of Lucia screwing another guy.  He starts yelling at the journalists, and assaults one.

Scene 6: Everyone walking out of the theater, discussing the situation: Lucia did something horrible, and is Sebastian ok?  they find him holding hands with a fan, and console him: "You're going to be single now.  Being single is great!"

Suddenly the dog that Fish was babysitting commits suicide by jumping off a ledge.  This is a horrifying scene.  It is played as a joke.  The end.

Beefcake: Sebastian is semi-nude while kissing girls.  Not impressive.

Gay Characters:
  My only hope is that Fish was lying about the girlfriend, and later comes out.  Um...based on this scene, I'm guessing not.

Confusing Plotlines:  The premiere was for a 3-D version of the movie.

Dog Suicide:  Even if there were gay characters, this would be enough for me to turn off the series forever.

My Grade: F

Apr 21, 2022

Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends

The Cartoon Network has substantially less beefcake than The Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, of course; it's mostly cartoons.  Live action series, like Tower Prep, with Drew Van Acker (left) and Ryan Pinkston, or Level Up, with Connor Del Rio, can't seem to find an audience, and get cancelled quickly.

But it has a staggering number of gay-subtext series, Adventure Time, Looney Tunes, Regular Show, My Gym Partner's a Money, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, all the way back to Time Squad in 2001.

Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends (2004-08) has an interesting premise: many (but not all) children can create imaginary friends, sometimes human, but usually unicorns, minotaurs, birds,  bees, television sets,  and things with multiple heads.  When their creators grow too old, the imaginary friends are abandoned, so the elderly Mrs. Foster runs a sort of orphanage where they can be adopted by new children.

The protagonist, Mac (voiced by Sean Marquette, left), has been forced to give up his imaginary friend Bloo, but he visits every day and becomes an honorary resident of the house, dining with the imaginary friends and participating in house meetings.  And his relationship with Bloo is coded as romance in at least a dozen episodes.

1. Mac accepts a “date” with a “dreamy boy,” even though he must skip his regular after-school visit to Bloo at the foster home.  The date turns out to be a dud – the boy doesn’t want to do anything fun, like climb rocks or draw with chalk  – so Mac returns to Bloo, who may not be attractive but is always up for a good time.

2. When Mac creates another imaginary friend, Bloo roils with jealousy; “I thought we had something special!”  “I didn’t plan it,” Mac protests, as if he has been caught in a romantic indiscretion.  “It just happened!”

3. Mac becomes infatuated with the superhero Imaginary Man, who asks him to become his sidekick by kneeling and proffering a jewelry box, as if he is proposing marriage.  The jealous Bloo becomes a super-villain, Uniscorn (because Mac has scorned him), and wears a broken-heart pendant.

4. When a boy named Barry arrives at the foster home in search of an imaginary friend to “adopt," he and Bloo are instantly attracted to each other, but Bloo refuses adoption, declaring that he and Mac will be together forever. “He may not be a movie star,” Bloo says, quoting the 1970s classic song “My Guy,” “But if you ask if we’re happy, we are!”

In the next scene, Bloo has a change of heart, and arrives at Barry’s house ready to woo him with flowers and candy.  The two begin seeing each other behind Mac’s back. Eventually Mac finds out.  Bloo insists that “Nothing happened!” (what, precisely, could have happened between an eight-year old boy and a blue blob?), but Mac breaks up with him anyway.

Snooping around, Mac discovers the truth: Barry is actually Berry, a female imaginary friend who has a fatal attraction for Bloo, and wants Mac out of the way so they can “be together forever”  In a gender-bending damsel-in-distress scene, Berry ties Mac to railroad tracks with a train fast approaching, and Bloo rushes to the rescue.  To the end of the episode, however, Bloo is oblivious to the deception; he wonders why Berry suddenly showed up with murderous intent, asks when Barry will be back, and refuses to believe that they were the same person.

"The Lodge": British Teencom with Lots of Songs about Becoming a Star, and a Star Coming Out


A British teencom called The Lodge has just dropped on the Disney Channel.  I'm watching all of the Disney teencoms for gay references, characters, or subtexts, so I'll give it a try.  Except I'm not starting at the beginning: Season 2, Episode 8 says "Gil accidentally reveals some shocking news to Skye."  Maybe he outs someone.

Scene 1: A bulldozer prepares to destroy the Lodge, while the teens look on in horror. It isn't what we would call a lodge in the U.S., more like a swank resort.   A blond girl collapses into the arms of Big Teeth Sean (Thomas Doherty, below), screaming.  But at the last moment, an Environmental Officer overrides the Evil Corporate guy: the bats in the attic are protected.  Everyone hugs and cheers.

Scene 2:
Evil Corporate Guy, who happens to be Big-Teeth Sean's Dad, snarling and gnashing his teeth.  He yells into the phone: "There must be something I can do to ruin those kids' lives forever!"  Sean comes in; Evil Corporate Guy gives him the job of fixing up the lodge: if he can't destroy it, he'll sell it.   That will hurt the kids, right?

Scene 3: Josh, the star of the show (played by the extremely talented actor Joshua Sinclair-Evans), is standing in the field with a blond girl (there are two on the show, so she could be from Scene 1 or not).  She can't live in the lodge anymore, so she has to live in a pink caravan (trailer), but: "It's still Gill's.  It would be too weird."  She invites Josh to move in with her, but he thinks the place is too small, so he hugs her and leaves.  

Scene 4: Kaylee (long black hair) in the woods. She sneaks in a hidden door.  Switch to Big-Teeth Sean cleaning up around the Lodge.  A blonde girl asks "You're not doing this because of me, are you?"  No, this is just Evil Corporate Dad's punishment for leaving the Dark Side.  By the way, he's going to sell it.  This horrifies the girl.  She makes a phone call: "We need to meet!  Now!"

Scene 5: Kaylee has taken the hidden door to a secret storage room with green walls, and into the lodge.  She sits down to sing an entire song about hitting the top and lighting the stars.  The janitor interrupts: "You're not supposed to be here!" "I have to practice for the concert tonight.  I'm nervous.  I thought being here would help me big this up."  The janitor helps by drawing faces on paper plates, so she can practice performing before an audience.  She's going to light up the stars, and she gets stage fright?

Meanwhile, Sean keeps cleaning up.  Hunky Ben (Luke Newton, top photo) and his femme friend Noah (Jayden Revri, left) arrive to help.  Finally, a gay couple or gay-subtext couple!  When Dad calls to see how the clean-up is going, Sean decides to rebel.  "I'm tired of Evil Corporate Guy blaming me for everything.  I never even wanted to buy this lodge. Let's frolick instead of cleaning up."

Scene 6: Three girls, blond, brunette, and redhead, talking: "The Evil Corporate Guy is selling the Lodge!  We need to find the gold, so we can buy it!"  Apparently there's a lot of gold lying around England.  They call the redhead's grandpa, who has left a voicemail with clues on how to find the gold: "Surround yourself with water and stand where the stone lies; look inside where the outside hangs; follow the line to the stars."  Ok.....

Scene 7: Sean's idea of frolicking was to walk across a taunt rope like an acrobat.  That sounds...um...fun, I guess.   But it's only a two feet off the ground; why not "big things up?"  I'd never heard that expression before, so I googled it: it's apparently unique to this series.  .  .

They put the taunt rope across a bog, while singing and dancing: "Gotta step up.  Don't even pull your punches.  Nothing's going to stand in your way."  Are all of their songs about self-actualization?   Of course, they all fall in, and hug and splash in the water.

Scene 8: 
 The boys go to the lodge to tell Kaylee about their slack-line adventure.  Wait -- if they can just walk in, what was the point of the secret entrance?   She's worried that Femme Noah got hurt. They cuddle  Uh-oh, he's got a girlfriend, not canonically gay.   He shows her a video of their adventure.  Next comes a video of a blond girl singing -- Kaylee's song about lighting up the stars!  A song thief!  Kaylee rushes off in a snit.  Femme Boyfriend follows.

Meanwhile, Sean and Hunky Ben see the Evil Corporate Guy (Dan Richardson) lurking around outside, and go out to confront him.  But instead of yelling, the Evil Corporate Guy apologizes: "It's not your fault.  I've done this to the family, and it's my job to fix it."

A moving fan pulls up.  "We're moving in.  We're going to run the lodge now."  This horrifies the teens. The end.

Beefcake:  None.  I thought the guys would take off some clothes at the bog, but they didn't.

Gay Characters: 
 Ben doesn't have a girlfriend in this episode, but he has romances with three girls during the series.  

We unfortunately didn't get a lot of scenes with the star of the show, Josh, but he is a major character in most other episodes.  He is gay, as announced in the Season 2 Episode "Help!"  on June 23, 2017.  His coming out predates Cyrus on Andie Mac, but purists don't count it because he doesn't actually use the word; he says "I don't like girls"  Wait -- didn't a blonde girl invite him to move into a tiny caravan with her?  That's a girlfriend move.  

Bursting into Song: Annoying.  Especially when every single song is "Fame!  I'm going to live forever, baby,  remember my name!"  

Plot:  I didn't really get why taking over the lodge was such a big problem, but that's what happens when you start halfway through the second season.

The Shocking Secret.  I have no idea what shocking secret Gil (Evil Corporate Guy) reveals to Skye (Blonde Girl #1).  I don't think they ever speak to each other.

My Grade: A for Josh Sinclair-Evans, C for everyone else.

Apr 20, 2022

The Gay Adventures of Billy and Mandy

One of my favorite gay-subtext series of all time was The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy (2003-2008) on the Cartoon Network, about the friendship between two kids, the sinister Mandy (voiced by Grey Delisle) and the dopey Billy (Richard Horvitz), and the Grim Reaper, a skeleton with a Jamaican accent (voiced by Greg Eagles, left).

 No tv series aimed at a juvenile audience has ever gone so far in hinting about the existence of gay people.

1. Inclusivity.  Classmate Irwin’s mother turns out to be a decaying, 5,000-year old Egyptian mummy; his father advises that “No one can tell you who to fall in love with.”

In Billy and Mandy Save ChristmasSanta Claus turns out to be married to a female vampire, who has bitten him several times over the years. “You can’t control who you love,” he explains.  Although these relationships both pair male and female creatures, they tacitly validate same-sex bonds, which certainly would be far more conventional.

2. Hints about Same-Sex Practices.  When Billy gets a girlfriend, his father yells to his mother, “Hey, Gladys, Billy is in love -- with a girl!  You owe me five dollars!”, suggesting that there has been some good-natured speculation in the household about the boy’s sexual orientation.

 In a Lord of the Rings parody, a fey elf is overcome with lust as he praises a dwarf’s “thick, sinewy muscles,” and “bulging, compact thighs,” and a scene at the end of the episode shows a cabaret occupied entirely by same-sex elf-dwarf couples listening to Billy sing.

3. References to Gay Culture.  Billy’s parents speculate about his sexual identity in an episode entitled “The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name,” a well-known euphemism for same-sex love.  “Dad Day Afternoon,” a play on Dog Day Afternoon, has nothing to do with bank robbery, but the plot about Grim hiding his grim-reaper career from his conservative father might be read as a parable for a closeted gay identity, like that of the primary pair in the movie.

4. Gay Marriage.  In “One Crazy Summoner” (August 5, 2005), Billy and Mandy attend summer school in a sorcery academy modeled on Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.  A misdirected potion makes Dean Toadblatt (John Vernon) fall in love with one of the male teachers, a human-sized squid (Weird Al Yankovic), who eagerly returns his interest.  In the next scene, they graphically kiss, then ride away on a broom decorated with tin cans and a “Just Married” banner, while the students cheer.

5. A Gay Romance.  In “Most Greatest Love Story Ever Told” (April 9, 2007), Billy's cousin Nergal, Jr. rejects a girl’s offer to walk him home from school, suggesting a lack of interest in preteen heterosexual practice; but he eagerly accepts Irwin’s offer to “hang out.”

Later Nergal agrees to Cyrano-de-Bergerac for Irwin, asking Mandy if she will go to the school dance with him. But Mandy thinks that Irwin is asking for himself, and agrees, whereupon Irwin angrily breaks off the friendship. 

Nergal is heartbroken, and he never “liked Mandy that way” in the first place, but he can’t call off the date and disappoint his unaccountably enthusiastic father (perhaps Nergal’s parents have been speculating about his sexual orientation, like Billy’s parents, but with less nonchalance).

At the dance, Nergal and Irwin fight, and Mandy rejects them both.  They look at each other.

Nergal says “So this is what love is?”  Irwin nods.

They begin to slow dance, holding each other closely as the camera pans out.  Nergal was never interested in Mandy, or in any girl, so his statement makes no sense unless he is referring to Irwin.  Perhaps not coincidentally, this was the last regular episode of the series.

Unfortunately, the last season hasn't been released on DVD.

Maxwell Atoms, the show's creator (center), complains on his blog that his grandmother thinks that he is gay.

Apr 18, 2022

"The Boy Behind the Door": Classic Gay Subtext Couple Kidnapped


Two boys roam a desolate forest.  Tight close-ups of their faces as they discuss going somewhere else,  somewhere where "the sun is always shining," like California.  Living in the Straight World, it's hard to remember that West Hollywood is still there.  If I didn't tell her, I could leave today.  California dreamin' on such a winter day.

Kevin (Ezra Dewey): Promise you won't go without me.

Bobby (Lonnie Chaves): Of course.  Friends to the end.

They share dandelions and play with their fingers against the sun.  Then a ball bounces into the woods.  Kevin goes to fetch it.  When he lingers, Bobby goes to see what happened.  They are both grabbed, tied, and put into a car trunk.   This is ridiculous.  Why would someone hang around a deserted woods looking for victims?

Six hours later, they arrive at their destination: a huge house in the woods.  The Kidnapper grabs Kevin, but leaves Bobby in the trunk.  Why would they leave one of their victims in the trunk?    He manages to free himself, but he can't run away and leave Kevin behind.  He goes into the house.

The Kidnapper has trapped Kevin "behind the door" to await the arrival of the Creep (Micah Hauptmann), who will purchase him, probably to rape and murder.  

Ok, this is ridiculous.  The vast majority of kids who go missing every year are runaways.  A small percent have been kidnapped by noncustodial parents.  The number of kids kidnapped by strangers is tiny, less than 1 per 100,000 capita, and most of those are for illegal adoptions or human trafficking.  Stranger kidnapping for rape and murder is so rare that you probably know the names of all of the victims from the last 20 years.

The movie becomes a taut (not taunt) thriller, as Bobby rescues Kevin, and Kevin in turn rescues Bobby.  There are footsteps in hallways, slowly turning door knobs, people with axes, and deaths:  a suspicious police officer (Sean Michael Scott, top photo), the Creep, the Kidnapper.  

The boys make standard horror movie mistakes -- don't go upstairs, get out of the house!  -- but they're 12 years old, so who can blame them.  They are both injured.  But -- spoiler alert -- they escape.  And the police cars finally arrive.

Next scene: A desolate beach, presumably in California.  What happened to the boys' parents? It's a gray, cloudy day, but they're together. They smile at each other. Friends to the end.  

 None. Lonnie Chaves was a kid in the movie, but he's now 17, and on his way to hunkiness.

Gay Characters:  Bobby and Kevin have a classic gay subtext romance, with rescuing, physicality, and permanence.  Plus at no time before or after the kidnapping do they have a discussion about girls.  

My Grade: B. 

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