a mini-musical by Zachary Halley.
2014 | 34 mins | US.
principal players: Anthony Rapp / Vincent, Pasha Pellosie / Thane, Claire Coffee / Autumn, Matt Shingledecker / Blake, Drew Brody / Cameron, Aiden Tyler Lee / Cameron's Boyfriend, Adam Halpin / Zero Body Fat Boy, Danny Blu / Glam Goth Boy, Calvin Grant / Basement Boy, Ravi Roth / Theatre Boy and Jonathan Chang as the Fashionista Boy.
Adapted Synopsis: "Fashion model Thane has a problem, given he's just too hot for his own good. Unable to express himself however, yet equally yearning for a man who sees beyond his pretty boy looks, he turns to his flatmate Vincent for help; a man of words who is soon to combine his flirty texted banter with Thane's sexy model pics, in a succession of app styled hook-ups. Yet love is a two-way street and just as Thane is introduced to a new class of men, could it be that Vincent is about to become addicted to the adulation bestowed upon beauty?"
There's a lot to like in this video inspired short film from writer and director Zachary Halley, given first and foremost this is a musical, with the protagonists breaking into song at seemingly every given moment. Thankfully the numbers, courtesy of Derek Gregor and Selda Sahin are both vibrant and well-sung, in particular by actor, dancer and singer Eric Michael Krop, whose vocal doubles for Pasha Pellosie's lip-sync on many a song, including the pulsating club beat of "Stay the Night". As should be the case, verse cross-cuts dialogue with ease, one that in itself is laced with a multitude of on-screen texts, reflecting the GRIND styled hook-ups of the narrative.
You never know who you're talking to, in GRIND.
Only look below the surface and this is far from your standard New York based tale of boy-meets-boy. Rather this is a Jekyll and Hyde work; bright and breezy one moment, yet intercut with hints that something ominous is lurking just around the cinematic corner, scenes that are all the more disturbing, given the opening credits remind you of the fact that the scenario is based on actual events. Thankfully its well-played from start to finish, being high in production values throughout, in particular Blake Steigerwald's splendid cinematography that wonderfully captures the two-edged nature of the narrative, one that finds star-in-the-making Pasha Pellosie perfectly cast as pretty boy Thane, leaving Broadway favourite Anthony Rapp of David Searching and Rent fame to excel as a man with a dark side to his character. Complimented by an all too short cameo from Claire (Grimm) Coffee as the boy's straight best friend Autumn, the result makes for a decidedly bittersweet piece, one that in showcasing the ease in which modern technology can hook you up with a man for the night, if perhaps longer should two hearts beat as one, equally questions the medium as a guise for those who seek to harm, given - can you really be sure who you're sexting?
All of which equates to a mini-musical with a distinct bite in its tale, one not afraid to juxtapose the sexual highs of the dating game; be it app based or cruising style, with the shocking underbelly of the low life's of society and here cue Marcelo Briem Stamm's feature Solo for a variant, if equally alarming take on the genre. Indeed and whilst many a joyous gay musical is currently Waiting in the Wings / trailer, it's kind of refreshing to see a theme such as this, set to music. Toe-tapping drama, indeed.
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - from the waist up.
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars.