Ah yes, the contemplative horror film. Most horror films are all about character action: let’s kill some shit, let’s see some blood gout, but the occasional genre flick seems to focus on the esoteric aspect of horror: Why am I a zombie? How did I become a zombie? Will I always be a zombie? These aren’t necessarily important questions to ask in the context of balls-to-the-wall horror films like SAW or HOSTEL. And yet, the philosophical horror film exists, and somehow continues to thrive, at least in certain circles, and dude, I gotta admit, I love ‘em.
Derek (Bo Barrett), mourning the recent death of a loved one, drops in on his old buddy, Jason (Ben Schmitt), looking for a place to crash. Jason reluctantly takes him in, and Derek is alarmed by the changes in the appearance of his old friend: the mascara, the dark clothes, the meticulously tweezed eyebrows. Sweet Crotch of Lucifer, over the past three years Jason has somehow transformed into a Goth. And not one of those fake Goths you sometimes see at Denny’s at 4am; Jason’s band of Goths are the real thing. They have private little rituals complete with chanting and girlfriend-swapping, and sometimes Jason and his girlfriend like to fuck while drinking from each other’s hand lacerations. That’s some hot Gothic shit right there.
Derek remains an outsider for awhile, but he’s eventually invited on a few Gothic ride-alongs, a back seat driver watching the crazy rituals unfold, until he’s introduced to Gina, a hyper-sexy Goth who is willing to induct him into the ways of the dark side. As a writer/director, Zack Parker has several ideas to express, and most of his themes are conveyed through quiet moments of thought-provoking subtlety. Sometimes those moments are a little too quiet and subdued, but the moodiness of Parker’s production piggybacks the film through an intriguing 100 minutes. Unfortunately, the respectably measured pace is almost undone by an amusing (and highly implausible) third reel plot twist.
Many of the characters in QUENCH speak in muted, laid-back tones, and quietness may very well be a staple of the Gothic lifestyle, but overall the performances lacked a sense of URGENCY; every character was constantly speaking in the low and concise voice of an automated weather report, even at those times when yelling seemed appropriate. Still, it’s paced with the admirable deliberation of Fessenden’s HABIT or Ferrera’s THE ADDICTION, and it provokes a whole shitload of thought regarding the temporal nature of friendship and our frequently inhibited response to new experiences. In essence, it’s the thinking man’s horror film, a treatise on the dark side of human nature, and ultimately a smart, savvy reminder of what independent horror is all about.