Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Queer dark comedies are few and far between, but if all of them were as batshit crazy as Down Low, we would truly be in the best timeline. Out actors Zachary Quinto (American Horror Story, He Went That Way) and Lukas Gage (Wyrm, Midnight Kiss) headline this wacky feature directorial debut from Rightor Doyle. A script written by Gage and Phoebe Fisher zips and zings at rapid-pace. Button-pushing humor may make some straight audiences uncomfortable, and a committed approach from Gage adds an extra bit of oomph to innumerable cum and bussy jokes. If neither of those terms are familiar, perhaps Down Low is not the movie for you. For everyone else, download the PLUNGR app and prepare for a crack-smoking good time!

Down Low starts off in the only appropriate way: depressed yet wealthy Gary (Quinto) strips down to nothing face-first on a massage bed as his sex worker masseuse, Cameron (Gage), prepares to give him a happy ending. As Gary’s first gay experience explodes toward a reality, everything from Cameron’s gum-chewing to colorful choice of music (cupcakKe’s “Deepthroat”) distracts Gary from an ultimate release. Cameron eventually snaps, “Bitch, am I not allowed to breathe?” This is the first of many quips that rattle freely from Gage’s lips, convincing in their Juno-esque sharpness. 

Mostly, Cameron cannot seem to fathom how Gary is a gay-virgin, especially since he has an ex-wife and kids. Conversely, Gary ponders whether Cameron has always dreamed of being a sex worker, or yearned for higher goals. The script gets a bit into the whys of it all, including Gary having married too young, and Cameron’s complicated coming out story. Down Low, however, is more show than tell. Set almost entirely at Gary’s home, the day takes a turn once Cameron ensures Gary gets the entire gay experience in a day, in a nutshell. One minute the two are chatting, and the next, Cameron takes Gary into the sketchy realm of sex/dating app GRINDR stand-in, PLUNGR.

The single most impressive element here is the way the humor builds, crescendoing several different times in bursts of preposterous ridiculousness. Spoiling the specifics of Gary and Cameron’s night ahead would certainly rob some of the fun, but it does include a character with the username LookingToSuckDick, Flowers in the Attic, a Sex and the City 2 cosplay night, internalized homophobia, and a dash of necrophilia. Smaller scene-stealing roles from Judith Light as the drunken neighbor and Simon Rex as Fleshpuppet from the dark web are part of the outrageous fun.

An intimate, single-location gay dark comedy with endlessly quotable dialogue may sound like a fantastical fever dream, and yet OutFest selection Down Low delivers exactly that (and not even on the DL)! On top of the raunchy humor, the film’s beating heart is the friendship between two very different types of gay men. Messaging here about mortality, legacy, and the importance of family bubbles just underneath its harsh exterior. Embracing oneself at any age is a cause enough to be celebrated. People, take note: every movie needs a lip-sync dance party interlude set to VINCINT’s “Higher.”

Down Low screened at 2023’s OutFest, and originally debuted at SXSW Film and Television Festival earlier this year.

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