The Reel Review
Believing they have been forced into becoming drug mules, two friends soon learn they have smuggled something even more terrifying inside their bodies across the Canadian/U.S. border, in this LGBTQ+ body horror/thriller starring Cooper Koch, Jose Colon and Jena Malone.
Shot in 4:3 aspect radio (presumably to make it even more claustrophobic), writer/director Carter Smith (The Ruins) has assembled a pretty taut, gritty, low budget body horror. Working from a very basic yet effective story that dabbles with homoerotic themes, it also features a heaping amount of full-frontal male nudity from Cooper (They/Them) and newcomer Colon. Imagine the 2016 horror/thriller Green Room, just with a way more LGBTQ+ vibe.
Smith amps up the claustrophobia nicely in the final act, although the somewhat realistic body horror still could have been taken even further to help offset some clunky pacing and questionable story arcs that defy common sense. The acting is solid enough, although Malone (Nocturnal Animals, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Stepmom) feels underutilized in a role that is very one dimensional. As the villainous drug smuggler, Mark Patton (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) is both hilarious and strangely terrifying – imagine a maniacal version of the late Leslie Jordan.
• Swallowed writer/director Carter Smith and Jena Malone also worked together on the 2008 body horror The Ruins.
• Los Angeles-born Cooper Koch and his twin brother Peyton, both of whom are gay, are the grandsons of Hawk Koch, the former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
• Mark Patton left acting for a couple of decades after 1985’s A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy’s Revenge effectively outed him as a gay man during the hysteria-fueled early years of the AIDS epidemic. In January 2023, Patton was hospitalized with AIDS-related ailments.
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