A coworker of mine lent me a DVD of a shot-on-digital feature a friend of hers had made - a DIY gay-themed occult horror film with bottom-drawer production values and a great story, called The Sacrifice. Directed by New Hampshire-based horror buff Jamie Fessenden (pictured at the top), it's one of those films where the modesty of means actually ends up making you root for the filmmakers and quietly cheering when they pull it off; I was surprised, when it finished, by how much I'd enjoyed the experience. It's filled with esoteric, genre-related in-jokes, a fairly dark sense of humour, and it has a thought-provoking story - I still haven't quite worked out what the relationships between the characters "mean," thematically, subtextually, archetypally, or psychoanalytically, but I found it fascinating, particularly since Fessenden isn't afraid of - is in fact interested in - entering some fairly dark regions of the human psyche. (I tend to prefer gay cinema that's a bit on the dark side - like, for instance, the transgressive and whip-smart Swoon, about the Leopold and Leob murder/kidnapping, or the films of Gregg Araki). Since I really enjoyed the film, I thought it would be kind of cool to interview Fessenden for Xtra West, Vancouver's gay and lesbian newspaper, where I'd yet to appear in print. They liked the story, and the interview has just been published in this week's issue; The Sacrifice, meanwhile - if all is going according to schedule - should be on the shelves at Videomatica now.
One quote I couldn't use in the article, offered here as a teaser, though it's completely unrelated to the film at hand: Fessenden and I were talking about the ways that horror cinema, with a few exceptions like David DeCoteau, has steered pretty clear of gay themes, to his disappointment. "Werewolf films are a particular pet peeve of mine," Fessenden said. "If the werewolf is male, for me, that’s a particularly homoerotic thing – you’ve got this guy who keeps running around naked all the time in the woods! And a lot of werewolf films kind of chicken out on that – you don’t even get much nudity in them, or anything else. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a werewolf film myself." It will have to wait until his sequel to The Sacrifice, The Resurrection, is finished, Jamie says.
Since we were on the topic of werewolves, I had to ask about the Canadian-made Ginger Snaps films, which (though they don't always live up to the greatness of the ideas behind them) I quite like. So does Jamie, it turns out. "The Ginger Snaps films are wonderful – especially the third one. I really love the one where they go back in time to sort of the origin of the thing. Some people debate it, but I think it has some very powerful moments. I love it!"
The Sacrifice tells the story of a geeky gay Goth kid who is drawn by a handsome blonde boy into a deep mystery involving Satanic ritual abuse in his town. Fessenden, who is also a composer, gives a great Bernard Hermann-esque score to to the piece, by the way - he was very flattered when I drew the comparison, but I don't believe I mentioned that in the article... Check out Dunkirk Studios' website for more, or pick up Xtra West - it's a pretty fun read, if'n I do say so myself...