For Sequin (Conor Leach), this excursion proves to be a delight and a danger. He meets somebody he likes, but he also comes across a sinister older man he’s had sex with during an earlier encounter, and this coming-of-age movie begins to take on the aspects of a psychological thriller.
The film is a confident first feature by Samuel Van Grinsvan, who credits the influence of Gus Van Sant and Gregg Araki, directors he studied for his Masters at the Australian Film Radio and Television School. In particular, he looked at the two filmmakers’ early work, which combined gay themes with tiny budgets.
The film was shot in Sydney but it could be any city equipped with blocks of high-rise apartments and a subway. The only time a shaft of sunlight seeps into the story is when Sequin is at school, distractedly checking the dating app on his phone while his English teacher lectures the class on instances of obsessive and transgressive love in literature.
This is all we get by way of overt commentary on Sequin’s addiction to risk-taking but nothing more is necessary.
Everything we need is in the condescending little smile he produces when Tommy (Simon Croker), his sweet-natured classmate, asks him out to the movies. He’ll go, but the smile makes it clear he’s doing poor Tommy a favour.
The same goes for his long-suffering father (Jeremy Lindsay-Taylor), who’s being driven more frantic by the minute at Sequin’s refusal to say where he’s been all night or with whom. Echoing parents everywhere, he has the temerity to suggest his son at least send him a text to confirm he’s alive and uninjured.
Van Grinsvan adroitly engineers the gradual heightening of suspense as Sequin realises he has a stalker whose obsession is more than a match for his own. As he loses control of the events he has set in motion, Sequin is soon transformed from an aspiring man of the world and restored to his real self – a naive 16-year-old who has strayed way out of his depth.
It’s a small film but an impressive one – deliberately and effectively laconic in the way it evokes the temptations and the perils of online dating.