Online dating allows you to be anyone you want, but it also affords malignant strangers the same inscrutability. This is what 16-year-old “Sequin” (so-called because of the sequin top he wears to hook-ups) discovers, as an older man’s infatuation with him turns nasty.
Sequin in a Blue Room is a stylish debut from director Samuel Van Grinsven, part coming-of-age story, part thriller. Sequin (Conor Leach) has fun, anonymous sex with older men that he finds on dating apps. Afterwards, he deletes their contact and moves on to the next one. “They don’t usually look like you,” one married man whispers, thrilled, before asking to meet again. Sequin may look cherubic but his dating MO is brutal. “I don’t really do that,” he says, before skipping back to his Sydney high school and spending English class scrolling under his desk.
Sequin is out to his single dad, who just wants to know more about his son’s whereabouts, and at school too, where shy classmate Tommy (Simon Croker), asks him to the movies, though Sequin isn’t initially all that interested in kids his own age.
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Things go wrong at the Blue Room, an anonymous warehouse sex party, where blue-lit plastic sheeting, behind which couples grind and gasp, creates a look that is somewhere between disco and crime scene. But Sequin’s older fan is there. Soon, he’s turning up at Sequin’s school, threatening him. When did cyber sex get so complicated?
The peril here isn’t from online promiscuity, but from an older generation mistaking easy access for ownership. In the end, Sequin… feels like a hopeful film that promises a better world for queer dating, online and off, as it is flooded with a new generation unburdened by the stigma or rage that drive obsession.
Sequin in a Blue Room is available on digital platforms from 9 April