Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.
The Charged: Sequin in a Blue Room
Writer/director Samuel Van Grinsven heaped this powerful, haunting erotic drama on us back in 2019 when it played the festival circuit. Now, two years later, we get to share it with you, dear reader.
Sequin in a Blue Room follows Sequin (Conor Leach), a 16-year-old beginning to explore his sexuality on dating apps. Unlike most of us, Sequin begins to venture into sex parties at age 16, discovering his sexual power through anonymous hook-ups, mostly with older men. A chance meeting at a party leads Sequin on an obsessive search to find a man with whom he shares an unexpected, emotional connection. That search, however, also invokes the ire of one of his older hookups. Thus begins a game of cat-and-mouse as Sequin searches out his dream lover, leading him into ever-more dangerous situations.
Sequin in a Blue Room isn’t exactly heavy on story or plot. Rather, Van Grinsven uses his premise to indulge in shadowy, often surreal visuals and atmosphere. That amps up the sexual charge for sure, as Leach gives a fearless, uninhibited performance in the leading role. Watching, we also recalled another famous, Blue, erotic thriller: David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. Whereas that story focused on “normal” characters ever more obsessed by kink and dangerous sex, Sequin follows the opposite path. Here, the character exists almost entirely in a world of sex and danger, and begins to realize his sexual power is only an illusion.
Well-acted, mysterious and directed with audacity by Van Grinsven, Sequin in a Blue Room will arouse viewers, as well as intrigue them. Call it a sexual thriller for the Grindr age. What it says about young people coming of age in said era is as elusive as it is frightening.
Streams on Amazon & YouTube.