An impulsive trip to unwind in the Fire Island Pines turns into a deadly weekend of cat-and-mouse for an unsuspecting gay lawyer in the aptly titled Last Ferry. Directed by Jaki Bradley and starring Ramon O. Torres, Sheldon Best, and Myles Clohessy, the indie thriller screens next Thursday, August 22 — along with Spanish-language gay romance End of the Century — in a suspenseful double-bill for Reel Affirmations’ Xtra monthly film series at Landmark’s E Street Cinema.
Torres portrays the central character Joseph, and wrote the screenplay inspired, in part, by the 2016 Korean horror hit The Wailing, and by the sizzling slow-burn of the 2013 French gay mystery Stranger By the Lake. “We also took some of our inspiration from some of Hitchcock’s movies, and tried to use Fire Island as a character,” says Torres, who joined his partner Michael D. Karp among the film’s quartet of producers.
Torres recounts that he and Karp had visited the gay beach mecca a few odd weekends long before their challenging shoot on the relatively isolated barrier island, located off the south shore of New York’s Long Island. “The second to last time I’d gone, the season had ended, and so it didn’t feel like the images you see online or the stories people tell,” he says. “And there was a little bit of eeriness in terms of it feeling a little empty and not really fulfilling what I had seen before. In general, the landscape is very beautiful, and [it] can be scary just because it’s so far removed from everything, and there aren’t roads.”
Torres hoped to capture in Last Ferry some of the atmosphere of the ghost stories he grew up hearing from his family, which hails from a small town in Mexico — El Gavilán de Abajo — steeped in urban legends. He also wanted to promote “the thesis that queer experiences run the gamut.”
“I was going to a bunch of queer film festivals and realizing that a lot of the festivals were limited in scope in terms of what type of stories they were showcasing. Like, you don’t see queer superheroes. You don’t see queer buddy comedies. I think it would be a great place where the world in general views your identity just as a part of you, not the holistic person that lends to making decisions. There are people that make good decisions, there are people that make bad decisions, but that should be separate from your sexual identity, or whatever other constructs people sort of put onto people.”
Last Ferry screens Thursday, August 22, at 7 p.m., at Landmark’s E Street Cinema. End of the Century follows at 9 p.m. Tickets for each film are $14. Visit www.thedccenter.org/lastferry and www.thedccenter.org/endofthecentury.