Socket (Sean Abley, 2007)
A while back, I reviewed a ridiculous, but quite amusing, little movie called The Gay Bed and Breakfast of Terror. While I was doing the research on that one, I happened upon Socket; so many personnel cross over between the two films that it almost seems as if this was one of those Roger Corman-esque situations where they wrapped one film early, realized they had time on their hands and extra film stock, and said “hey, who’s got a script they want to film?” If I’m right on that, this was the movie they set out to make, and …Bed and Breakfast… was the afterthought; every place that movie is silly, stupid fun, Socket is serious as an electrocution burn. The unfortunate side effect of this is that where …Bed and Breakfast… escaped its basement budget relatively unharmed—in fact, connoisseurs of bad slasher movies almost expect movies to have zero budget going into them—Socket is a movie that could have really, really used a budget boost in order to get the most out of its ideas. None of the movie’s problems on its own is a showstopper, but they do add up.
Plot: Bill Matthews (Make the Yuletide Gay‘s Derek Long), a prominent surgeon at a metropolitan hospital, is struck by lightning, and finds himself a patient at his own workplace. Time goes by, and much of his physical trauma heals, but he still feels shaken, rootless, at a loss. A fellow doctor at the hospital, Craig Murphy (Gone, but Not Forgotten‘s Matthew Montgomery), takes an interest that is, perhaps, more than professional; not only do the two of them begin an intimate relationship, but Murphy introduces Matthews to what he initially bills as a support group for lightning-strike survivors. Bill soon finds that it is much, much more than that—and that the best way to combat his lingering malaise is with erotic jolts of electricity. But in Bill’s world, electricity, like sex, can become dangerously all-consuming.
There was a lot about Socket that I liked, in some cases despite myself. I know the best-lesbian-friends-of-the-gay-main-character trope is overdone and kind of tired, but that didn’t stop me loving Allie Rivenbark (one of the many minor cast members who also showed up in …Bed and Breakfast…) and Rasool J’Han (The Bay)’s characters here. Georgia Jean, while her role here was depressingly small, validated my initial impression in …Bed and Breakfast… that there’s a lot to like about her acting ability; unfortunately, these are her only two feature appearances to date. (Please, someone, fix that.) And man, the script is absolutely bursting with excellent ideas; I’ve seen reviews compare it to both David Cronenberg (the obvious parallel is Videodrome) and The Picture of Dorian Gray, and both of those comparisons are right on the money. In a sense, Socket is kind of the anti-Daydreamer (above); Socket has all the pieces that were missing from Daydreamer and vice-versa. Too bad these two kids didn’t get together and have a perfect, twisted love child. I can’t overlook Socket‘s shortcomings, its woeful special effects, its penchant for taking itself too seriously in places where it begs for camp, its ultimately unsatisfying ending. But I’m still going to conditionally recommend it because there is so much to like sitting just underneath the hood. If you’re the kind of person who can appreciate awful third-generation bootleg tapes of your favorite band because you can listen to them and imagine what the music actually sounded like at that gig, then Socket should be right up your alley. **