There’s countless LGBT horror flicks out there, but few of them can really master the subtleties and sublime terror you find in a Hitchcock classic. B&B is part of these playful, but fierce exceptions. Poking fun at some of our most beloved thriller tropes, writer and director Joe Ahearne has crafted a half-satire, half-horror film brimming with suspense, humour and unforgettable plot twists. Fair warning: although B&B isn’t for the uninitiated, you shouldn’t go into it as a horror connoisseur, but rather as a movie buff looking for a thrill.
Gay people love a good bed and breakfast. But what happens when a relaxing holiday turns into a showdown between equality and hate? Marc (Tom Bateman of Da Vinci’s Demons) and Fred (Sean Teale, Incorporated) are a happily married couple that have had their fair share of bad luck when it comes to finding holiday inns. One year after they were refused lodging by a homophobic B&B owner, the two men have won a lawsuit against the businessman and have decided to rub salt in the wound by returning to his guest house. Celebrating both their long-lasting relationship and their rightful victory over bigotry, Fred and Marc take it a step too far when relishing their new, single-bed room. It appears that the Christian owner, Josh (Paul McGann), is dead-set on getting revenge, even if it means killing them in their sleep!
Ahearne tackles topics like homophobia and resentment in a witty and ingenious manner by finally disentangling gay characters from the image of the hero, the lonely outsider or the stereotypical villain. Instead, B&B cleverly brings forth real characters, with genuine depth and a strong personality behind any limiting labels. Moreover, the film doesn’t get stuck in tacky plot lines or cliché representations. Sure, it starts off with a common theme – a misfortunate gay couple that walks into a nightmarish situation – but slowly builds up from there and turns into a witty steamrolling of events that has the viewer glued to their screen from the very first shot to the last.
Introducing Paul’s character (Callum Woodhouse) – the businessman’s young and clearly gay son – is not just a cosmetic addition to the film’s roster, but rather a strategic move that opens up the way to a series of remarkable and flawlessly interwoven plot twists. Ahearne then manages to pursue relevant subplots (like how far a zealous and intolerant father will go to save his secretly homosexual son) while still maintaining a tense atmosphere and keeping the story credible and relatable. The same can be said regarding the chilling arrival of the hunky, intense Alexie (James Tratas), a Russian Neo-Nazi whose motivations are shrewdly hidden from the viewer until the film’s final reveal.
What makes B&B a truly unique LGBT film is its malleability and openness – there’s no political game, no stereotypical gay men or bigots, no pro-social agenda and no deep-rooted stances about who is wrong and who is right. Albeit taking a jab or two at Christian propaganda and siding with etiquette and the decency of equal rights in the end, Ahearne’s movie does not aggrandize or attempt to convince the viewer of one point of view or another. There’s not one unequivocal perspective being pushed as absolute and no moralizing about abhorrent or desirable behavior. Instead, the viewer gets a raw taste of a multitude of perspectives and is left to decide for himself which one he finds more palatable.
Ultimately, Ahearne pieces together a rare thriller that surprisingly manages to live out Hitchcock’s undying dream – combining horror with comedy. The smart writing and crisp, on-point humor in B&B keeps the viewer entertained without fail, adding a much needed light-heartedness to the jittery tone of the movie. Lastly, the main trio’s performance is exemplary given the film’s miniscule budget, creating a riveting and brilliant interplay between characters that you scarcely see in today’s horror motion pictures. All of these elements combined make B&B one of the most compelling thrillers of the year, using comedic effect in order to explore real fears that LGBT people struggle with such as fear of rejection and oppression.