Entertainment, Opinion

This queer horror short film isn’t afraid to explore hard topics

How many short films are written and directed by a queer person, with explicitly queer characters and actors, and with a Black gay man protagonist? 

The Quiet Room is all of these, and it’s a horror short that isn’t afraid to explore hard topics. 

(Spoilers ahead.)

Jamal Douglas plays Michael, a suicide survivor who believes he is haunted by a demon in his hospital’s quiet room.  

Since writer and director Sam Wineman is a gay man himself, a level of care is evident in the writing, especially when dealing with the topic of suicide and queer people. 

Trevor Project survey recently revealed that suicidal ideation rates among LGBTQ youth have increased. 

LGBTQ youth of color attempted and considered suicide at higher rates than white youth in the community, and the highest rates were among trans, nonbinary, and other gender diverse youth.

Worse, all of this has increased since 2018, when The Quiet Room was released, leaving an extreme sense of dread if you’re visiting the film for the first time. 

What makes this horror short so captivating is not only its performances but its outright queerness. Having that not be hidden or depicted as worthy of shame is so very important.

Queer characters don’t always get stories that don’t revolve solely around shame. 

Michael’s journey is especially about mental health and loss. 

The demon, Hattie (Alaska Thunderfuck), only goes after gay boys, while being gay herself ­– queer people are allowed to be villainous!

Michael’s time in the psych ward isn’t all terrible, though. 

It’s obvious that entertaining relationships, after the death of his lover Ben (Indar Smith), is never something he intends. 

However, not even being confined to a psych ward keeps Michael from being drawn to someone.

He becomes attracted to and sleeps with Hunter (Kit Williamson), who is also a patient there.

Unfortunately and traumatically for Michael, Hunter becomes another victim of Hopeless Hattie. 

When Michael seemingly gives into Hattie, the other patients scramble to save him, only for him to keep them from entering the room and face off against Hattie on his own, in what is presumably about facing trauma, rather than running away from it. 

Ironically, the only way to ward off Hattie is to write a suicide note, and Michael seemingly defeats the demon with this. 

The ambiguous ending implies that Hattie possesses Michael, but it’s up to the audience to decide what happens.

There is really no horror short film like this one, not with a queer person behind it creatively or queer actors. 

I recommend folk check out the film this Pride Month or any other month. 

If you or someone you know needs support, please refer to our list of Australian community services and resources.

Author’s note: This is my  final article for Pink Advocate for the immediate future. 

Writing for this publication since 2020 has been a tremendous experience. It’s not a common occurrence to be given an opportunity to write for a queer space on a consistent basis and to work with someone who is part of the community. 

Jesse is someone I can genuinely say has helped me grow as a writer during this time. 

I’ve written many articles that I’m proud of on horror, anime, and other queer and pop culture topics. 

Knowing that people still read my older articles is a special thing, so thank you if you’ve been one of those people at any point, and thank you to Jesse for being a lovely editor and friend.

Happy Pride Month! Continue to advocate for Black queer folks if you’re a non-Black queer person, redistribute your funds if you have some to spare, and support queer spaces!

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