Hey folks! So begins my Halloween XXXtravaganza, with the first movie to arrive at my door, The Hole, written and directed by Wash West, who has since moved on to non-hardcore fare, with a couple of indie movies under his belt, including Echo Park, L.A., and Hello Darkness, still in pre-production. West seems to be respected by his adult film peers, and so I went into this movie with pretty high hopes.
I also approached this movie with the awareness that I know next to nothing about gay hardcore - my only other contact with gay porn is Oliver Twink (2007), which was really a tragedy to watch. Not only was it poorly made, but no one seemed to be enjoying themselves in the sex scenes, which is something of a requirement of mine. Call me crazy. Part of this feeling stemmed, I think, from the fact that none of the "bottoms" had boners - yet, after seeing The Hole, and doing a little research, it turns out some guys can, some guys can't, but ultimately it's not an indication of pleasure. So, perhaps I was going into The Hole with a heteronormative view of sex. Nevertheless, expressions of enjoyment are a must, in my book, and there were a few scenes in which the performers made no sound or articulations of joy, and the whole thing felt cold. More about that in a moment.
The Hole, a parody of The Ring (1998/2002), stays impressively faithful to its source text: Josh, played by Josh Hammer, has watched a video with his two jock friends, Eric (Jason Adonis) and Tom (Sam Tyson); now, according to his friend Pete (Derec Lang), he will get a phone call in seven days and turn gay. Sure enough, Josh receives a phone call, and, with the help of his "straight" friend Pete, they find a way to test his gayness, if you know what I mean. Sure enough, he's gay (Pete,on the other hand,is not - "I'm still straight, but my girlfriend's out for the night."). Benny Benson (cover boy, Tag Eriksson) from the San Francisco Examiner stops by to investigate the strange occurrences, and the hunt for the origins of the video begin.
Let me start out by saying that the acting in this movie is absolutely terrible. Let my also add that the script was fucking awesome - line after quotable line of awesomeness; I was really spoiled, and I laughed a lot. West's playful mockery of frat boy masculinity is on point, and frequently hilarious. It's a shame, then, that the actors couldn't pull it off - the only person who does a fairly good job is Sam Tyson as Tom, and he also takes the crown for best sex performance as a very enthusiastic "power bottom." What the other scenes lacked in vocality and passion, Tyson, in his scene with Jason Adonis, made up for.
The thing I most appreciate about The Hole is the way the filmmakers took a concept - the "threat" of queerness - that horror exploits on a regular basis, making literal monsters of queerness, satirized it, and ultimately defused the threat. Each "bro" that watches the video ultimately enjoys being gay once they're "turned," in spite of their initial fear. Furthermore, being gay is not presented as something that suddenly happens once you see "the hole" - rather, each dude who has watched the tape starts questioning their sexuality during the seven days leading up to the notorious phone call. In this way, the film suggests that once the seed of alternate sexualities is planted, a man may consider these alternatives and open their mind to being queer. Indeed, the final coupling of Benny and Josh, the latter of whom has expressed his attraction to Benny from the outset, occurs when they both think Benny must have turned gay - following their ravishing of each other, we discover the clock is broken and that Benny turned gay voluntarily, before he was "turned." The phone rings, and the familiar voice says, "You're gay." Benny retorts, "I already know that," turns to kiss his lover, and the phone drops to the floor. Ending the movie in this way de-fangs the satirical premise of homosexuality as a horrific threat, presenting it instead as an unexplored site of pleasure for many "straight" men.
Ultimately, it's difficult not to find The Hole charming. The outstanding script still shines even when being delivered in monotone, and the actors' impersonations of stereotypical frat boys is a constant source of laughs, particularly when enunciated during sex - "Man, being gay totally rocks." - "Yeah, being gay is bad ass, dude." Killer, dude.