Swallowed – queer horror flick about two friends on a drug run gone bad
Swallowed is the Sundance Festival award-winning queer horror film from director Carter Smith. After a drug run goes bad, two friends must survive a nightmarish ordeal of drugs, bugs, and horrific intimacy in this backwoods body-horror thriller. Set in a remote township on the border between Maine and Canada, it’s a story about friendship and the extremes we are willing to endure to protect the ones we love.
Benjamin (Cooper Kock) and Dom (Jose Colon) begin their night at a bar up in Canada saying their goodbyes, before Benjamin jets off to Los Angeles to begin his new career as a porn star. Before heading back, Dom says he has to do a quick stop on they way. That quick stop is the beginning of a nightmare that unleashes terror, horror, squeamish gore scenes, and taboo erotic scenes.
What should be a quick drug run grab takes a turn for the worse, and the pair are forced to transport this unknown substance in a manner not expected. The drug itself supposedly provides the greatest trip ever, a full body stone where you can’t move, but you can feel everything. Getting through the border went easy, but what awaits on the other side is unexpected.
Throughout the film we discover Benjamin and Dom have been friends for years, one gay, the other straight. Because of this, they will go to no lengths to care for one another, which they both soon learn is pushed to the limits. With the deal being only getting paid once the drugs are delivered, there are a few scenes heavily depicting this process. The drugs themselves prove to be a shocking revelation.
All the while, Benjamin hasn’t yet made it to Hollywood, but the whole movie could be described as horror porn. There’s enough real dialogue and story line to keep the film interesting, and the character acting is spot on, from the tough redneck to the flamboyant drug lord. Finally, true queer horror done well. Kudos to Mark Patton (Rich) and Jena Malone (Alice) in their supporting roles.
Available from Momentum Pictures.
Produced completely DIY in the backwoods of Smith’s hometown in Maine during the height of COVID, the film stars Cooper Koch, Jena Malone, Mark Patton, and debuts Jose Colon. After taking home completion prizes at the beloved US in Progress sidebar competition at the American Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, the film has since played several high-profile festivals including Fantasia, Fantastic, Overlook, Outfest, Brooklyn Horror, Screamfest, and NewFest where it won the Grand Jury prize for best feature. The film has received rave reviews from Film School Rejects, Flickering Myth, Anton Bitel, Dread Central and more.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT: Carter Smith
As a queer kid, growing up in rural Maine felt dangerous. At least as dangerous as the horror movies I loved so much. Maybe more so. I wanted nothing more that to see myself in the films I loved. What I got were campy sidekicks. Deranged serial killers. Faint undercurrents and vague subtext which barely touched on the loneliness I was feeling. I wanted to see someone who felt what I felt. Who loved like I hoped to love. And I wanted to be scared while I was with them.
Horrified by what was about to happen. Or what might not happen. Terrified by the darkness lurking as they struggled to face their worst fears. But horror wasn’t a place for queer stories – and my teenage self found a way to be okay with that.
But representation matters. Seeing yourself in the films you love holds true value. Even if those films also involve masked killers or the sweaty creeping dread of body horror.
SWALLOWED is a queer midnight love story that explores how far we are willing to go to protect the people we love. There is blood. And pus. And sweat. And tears. And it’s exactly the tender sweaty body horror film I wish my teenage self had discovered in the “Midnight” section of my local video store.
Jena Malone, Mark Patton, Cooper Koch, Jose Colon
ON DIGITAL AND ON DEMAND:
February 14, 2023
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.