The Thriller and horror genre often finds itself sidelined in LGBTQ filmmaking, its voice limited to low budget, low quality porn/horror films. However i recent years this has began to change with the sublime Stranger by the Lake, providing a deep dive into sex and psychological horror. Alongside Knife and Heart reimagining 70s slasher horror for a new queer generation. Therefore Last Ferry starts from a promising premise; a thriller first and foremost, that happens to have gay characters. Echoing the vision of Stranger by the Lake, Rear Window and What Lies Beneath.
Joseph is a disillusioned Manhattan lawyer searching for something new in his life. Deciding to ditch the stress of work for a visit to the ‘out of season’ Fire Island. His mission to escape the pressures of daily life and find some brief yet satisfying sexual adventure. However, on meeting a stranger events quickly spiral out of his control. Leading him to meet a group of gay men where secrets sit beneath the surface of pleasure and friendship.
There are themes inherent in Last ferry that should allow the film to shine with originality. Not only embracing a thriller dynamic, but also providing a commentary on the interface between work, pleasure and risk taking. However, in delivery Last Ferry struggles to reflect the vision sitting behind the narrative. Its final edit rushed, while its cast don’t seem able to buy into the story on screen. Ultimately leading to a lack of foreboding or fear, that would have kept the story sharp and engaging. While the screenplay also feels rushed, it’s brighter moments of comedy and character development shrouded by an overly simplistic tone.
However, cinematography does at times offer an engaging aesthetic, especially within the first forty minutes. Where the stark ‘out of season’ themes of Fire Island find voice in images that scream isolation. It is therefore sad that this cannot be maintained as the remainder of the film opts for interior shots. That ultimately take away the trepidation of the external scenes preceding them.
It is never easy making a film on a small budget, and Last Ferry tries hard with an extremely low $50,000 budget. This is in itself is to be commended, and given more time in editing, it could have paid off. But its core problem comes from a mixed and unclear concept of the genre it aims to inhabit. One where themes of sex, isolation and fear never truly find a voice despite the promise of its creation.