Dr. Bill Matthews is struck by lighting. While recovering at the hospital where he works, he begins an intimate relationship with Dr. Craig Murphy, who invites Bill to join a strange group o... Read allDr. Bill Matthews is struck by lighting. While recovering at the hospital where he works, he begins an intimate relationship with Dr. Craig Murphy, who invites Bill to join a strange group of lightning survivors.Dr. Bill Matthews is struck by lighting. While recovering at the hospital where he works, he begins an intimate relationship with Dr. Craig Murphy, who invites Bill to join a strange group of lightning survivors.
SOCKET, in spite of flaws that come mostly from its VERY low budget origins, can still be added to the list. Writer/director Sean Abley, who is a self-admitted fan of David Cronenberg's films, may have aimed a little too high with this semi-homage to the director, but one can't blame him for giving it a good try, or for coming up with something that's more watchable than your "average gay movie" about drugs, dancing, casual sex and all the melodrama that comes with it.
Dr. Bill Matthews (Derek Long) awakens in the hospital one day with no memory of the event that put him there, until it's explained to him that he was struck by lightning. A very attentive intern named Craig Murphy (gay indie staple Matthew Montgomery from GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN and LONG TERM RELATIONSHIP), also the victim of a lightning strike, warns Bill that life for him will never be the same, and hands him a business card with a phone number to contact a "special group" of other people who will be able to "help him when he's ready." Baffled but curious, Bill takes the card.
Later, convalescing at home with the help of lesbian buddies Carol (Rasool J'Han) and Olivia (Allie Rivenbark), Bill discovers that his ordeal has left him with some very curious side effects, not the least of which are the compulsion to clean and organize his house meticulously (amazing for the formerly sloppy singelton) and a strange attraction to his TV set, even when it's not showing anything but static and snow, (shades of James Woods in VIDEODROME!)
Eventually, all this weirdness finally does lead Bill to contact the group and reconnect with Murphy, leading to a remarkable discovery: an underground group of lightning strike victims who not only survived, but have developed a craving for electricity and the temporary "high" it brings them. Reluctant at first, once Bill's had his first taste of "juice" since his accident, he develops both an addiction to it and to Murphy, whom he engages in a torrid affair. As the story progresses, Bill's addiction grows stronger and he becomes more desperate to find ways to feed it, just like any crack head or heroin junkie, leading him to commit some horrifying acts - the kind you see in most sci-fi/horror thrillers where the hero suddenly loses control of himself to external and/or internal forces . I guess I don't have to tell you that the story doesn't exactly have a happy ending.
And actually, that's one of SOCKET'S biggest drawbacks - that it doesn't really have an ending. Where VIDEODROME, the movie that this most closely resembles, had kind of an ambiguous ending that left the audience to decide for themselves what actually happened, SOCKET just kind of...comes to a halt. It's almost as if Sean Abley had a much more elaborate ending written, but because of time and budget constraints, just sort of "winged it" with what he could come up with.
Which is too bad, because unlike a lot of gay indies that are barely watchable, this one has its very strong points. And, of course, that list starts with the leads. Long and Montgomery have great chemistry as the "charged-up" lovers, plus it's refreshing to have two actors so easy on the eyes engaged in some great love scenes that are neither as gratuitous or as forced as they have been in other movies. J'Han and Rivenbark also shine as the gal pals, though Rivenbark could've dialed the butch Olivia's character back just a tad.
As Bill's stoic colleague, Alexandra Billings does a good job playing Dr. Emily Andersen, and though it could've turned out to be a bit much, Sean Abley hits just the right notes as the leader/moderator of the "group." David Kittredge's editing seems jumbled and very disorienting at first, until you 'get' the gist of it about a third of the way through the movie. In hindsight, he and Abley made some very ingeniously creative choices, minimizing the need for special visual effects and setting the tone for the story. The effects makeup by Gage Hubbard is surprisingly effective for the kind of thing you'd get if you tried to achieve "VIDEODROME"- level ambitiousness on a "BLAIR WITCH PROJECT" budget.
There aren't nearly enough writers and directors in this particular niche of indie film-making, who are willing to go out on a limb and take some real risks with style and storytelling. With a little more time and money and opportunities to tweak the script a bit more, SOCKET could have definitely been closer to a ten-star worthy effort. As is, though, the aspects of the film that succeed far outweigh the ones where it doesn't. I would hope that future circumstances will bring director Abley together again with the engaging leads, with a project that will enable them to raise all of their talents to the next level.
- Mar 23, 2008