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'Low Key' review: Zachary Quinto and Lukas Gage in frenetic, shallow queer comedy

In a stately home on Long Island, flanked by coniferous forests and the sun-drenched ocean, a man prepares for a massage. Carefully he took off his oxfords and stuffed them into a small room. Next came his watch, which he undid. It was a stark difference from the way he handled his wedding ring, which he pointed at with his finger before tossing the gold ring into the box.

as the man – his name is Gary and he is played by Zachary Quinto – lowering himself onto the massage table with music playing in the background With heavy and dramatic orchestral music. His masseur, a brisk, blue-eyed, blond man, began rubbing oil on his back. The tone of the scene changes as Gary moans and groans.


Bottom line A half-baked mess.

SXSW Film Festival (Narrative Spotlight)
Cast: Zachary Quinto, Lukas Gage

, Simon Rex, Sebastian Arroyo, Christopher Reed Brown Director: Rightor Doylescreenwriter: Phoebe Fisher, Lukas Gage 1 hour minutes

So start down low , a try

‘s zany, frenetic and horny comedy there doesn’t end anywhere. By co-star Lucas Gage ( White Lotus ) and Phoebe Fisher, this film chronicles Gary’s mania 20 Time to get out. Ready to live life to the fullest, Gary hired a masseur/sex worker to give him a manual job and maybe more. When hired Cameron (Gage) learns that Gary has only recently come out and has never had sex with a man, he goes for a game question. Younger, more confident, freer gay men make it their mission to loosen the rigidity of divorce.

Their adventure begins with wine, confession and online dating lessons. Cameron introduced Gary to the world of Plungr, a Grindr-like app, and encouraged him to create a profile. Cameron insists that this is the way to go. But Gary, reserved and insecure by nature, couldn’t muster the courage. Unwilling to say no, Cameron created a profile on their behalf, assigning them the roles of “lad” and “dad.” The quest to find a third person for the trio begins.

Down Low, by Rightor Directed by Doyle ( Bonding), is an ambitious coming-of-age story wrapped in pseudo-morality drama hilarious comedy with reluctant dark web adventures, tense encounters with neighbors, necrophilia and Drug-inspired musical interlude. Doyle directs these escalating and stressful scenes with confidence, demonstrating an ability to maneuver and balance tonal demands from comedy to horror in a spotty script. For one moment, Gary and Cameron bond over a shared sense of abandonment; the next, they’re about to kill.

The last point is an accident. When Sammy (Sebastian Arroyo) realizes that Cameron and Gary are a one-for-two deal, Sammy (Sebastian Arroyo) receives an exchange with a local closeted man. Invitation to sexual relations. The snappy roleplay turns into real rage as the three start to brawl. Sammy tried to hit Cameron, but ended up flying out the window and onto the concrete. Death is shocking. This is just the beginning of Down Low how unstoppable it is to be shut down predict.

But loud hijinks can only take you so far before you need an anchor. Essentially, Down Low is ostensibly about intergenerational The process of coming out of difference, repression as a means of realizing the elusive notion of “goodness”, and fully embracing what it is like to be yourself. Actually addressing these topics – with light touches rather than the clumsy lessons this film offers – could be Down Low

The saving grace, but the script repeatedly undercuts that possibility, and what’s left feels hollow. Amidst his deeper internal conflicts and complexities, the character feels casual; the script struggles to balance the bombshell revelations of his life with his childhood trauma and his current passivity. Gary, as written, there is too much going on, but not enough.

Cameron inspired a similar frustration. At first, he seems like a clever parody of the typical cis white queer , whose entire Personality comes down to playful bits and pieces, including a penchant for Gen Z catchphrases (“That’s hot,” “We stan”) and influences borrowed from black queer influences. But bitterness, sarcastic humor and pop culture anecdotes are ultimately only Cameron has to offer, and as the movie progresses, his character reads less like shrewd caricature and more like depressing reality. This belittles his later behavior, which includes a confrontation with Gary’s ex-wife (Audra MacDonald).

Cameron and Gary, caught up in disaster, try to figure out what to do with the dead body. Forces—mostly Gary’s Ambien-addicted neighbor Sandy (Judith Wright)—threaten to uncover their half-baked plans. In order to find a solution, they decided to hire Buck (Simon Rex) to help discard Sami’s body. (Cameron and Gary don’t want their sketchy forensic cleaner snorting cocaine or becoming a necrophile.)

The wild ride continues, and it’s clear – if not already – In low key , antics are the priority. Similar to Bottom , another SXSW entrant, this film overturns expectations of queer narrative by prioritizing fun and raunchy humor to follow the same sad beat. But there wasn’t enough substance for us to care about getting to the finish line.

Full credits

Venue: SXSW Film Festival (Narrative Spotlight) Production companies: FilmNation Entertainment, Sui Generis Pictures Cast: Zachary Quinto, Lucas Gage, Simon Rex, Sebastian Arroyo, Christopher Reed Brown, Audra McDonald, Judith LightDirector: Rightor Doyle Writers: Phoebe Fisher, Lucas Gage Producers: Ashley Fox, Lucas Wiesendanger, Ross Katz Executive Producers: Glen Basner, Alison Cohen, Milan Popelka, Ben Browning, Will Greenfield Photographer: Nate Hurtsellers Production Designer: Maite Perez-Nievas Costume Designer: Lucy HawkinsEditors: Mike S. Smith, David MoritzComposer: Adam Crystal Casting Director: Wendy O’Brien Sales: FilmNation Entertainment

1 hour30 minute

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