Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Electric Company He Keeps: "Socket" (2007)

Fighting the urge to make about a thousand puns about electricity, I will say that "Socket" is a valiant entry in the gay horror subgenre...and yes, I saw "HellBent."

Surgeon Bill (Derek Long) is electrocuted and recovering in his own hospital under the care of a battleaxe colleague (Alexandra Billings) and an overly interested intern Murphy (Matthew Montgomery, who looks like Eric Bana's little brother). Still weak, but better, Bill is released and sent home to be checked on by friend Carol (Rasool Jahan).

Bill begins feeling a little odd. He suddenly starts organizing and cleaning up his normally trashed house. He leaves the television on constantly, fascinated with the staticky snow pattern on off-air channels. He remembers intern Murphy inviting him to a secret meeting if Bill ever "needs anything," and Bill goes. At the meeting, led by Mike (Sean Abley), Murphy and the circle of people all talk about their near-death experiences at the hands of electrocution; how their shocked minds crave the order, and thereby the electrical current, that was introduced into their bodies via lightning, etc. The hugging group then drops the touchy-feely portion of the meeting, hook themselves up to a generator, and give themselves a boost before a wild night on the town, none of which Bill remembers the next morning.

Before you dismiss this as an "electricity as drug" addiction allegory, Bill hits on a Frankensteinian plan. He implants a set of electrical prongs in one of his wrists, and a socket in the other, then does the same for new love interest Murphy. Now they can feed off their bodies' respective electrical charges, as well as your standard electrical outlets. The entire group gets plugged and pronged, but then Bill begins to change.

Sex with Murphy gets a little rougher, and Bill is furious over the most trivial matters when at work. As his relationships collapse, and a situation with a mugger goes wrong, Bill takes his personal recharging to a whole new murderous level.

Shot in nine days on a handful of sets with a video camera, "Socket" succeeds in enough aspects to recommend it. The small cast is good all around, with their characters' homosexuality never coming off as a gimmick. Sean Abley owes a lot to David Cronenberg, but it is refreshing to see a horror fan's affection in the finished product, and not using my favorite genre as a simplistic stepping stone to something bigger and better. Jennifer Kes Remington's music is excellent, my kind of stuff.

The screenplay feels rushed, leaving a lot of territory unexplored. The use of flashy editing in lieu of expensive effects often works, and the makeup is good, but eventually the padding wore thin. Finally, this is the worst hospital set in the history of hospital sets.

I liked "Socket," and it proves to be a passable little film. Abley and his road company can only improve. (* * *) out of five stars.