Review: ‘Blackmail Boys’

An oddly endearing mix of graphic sex, young love and home-movie noir from the Shumanski brothers.

This oddly endearing mix of graphic sex, young love and home-movie noir from the Shumanski brothers (“Wrecked”) depicts a guileless gay couple’s brief foray into crime. The Chicago-set zero-budgeter, lensed by indie shock-horror helmer Adam Wingard, also features the Windy City’s favorite mumblecore son, Joe Swanberg, as a homophobic evangelist-cum-closet queer. Ultimately destined for the gay circuit, “Boys” rewards target auds with a high quotient of sexual explicitness combined with thesping of genuinely unaffected sweetness.

To make ends meet as a new student at the Art Institute of Chicago, gentle Sam (Nathan Adloff) resorts to hustling, a choice that greatly perturbs longtime b.f. and future hubby Aaron (Taylor Reed) upon his arrival from Memphis. Recognizing one of Sam’s rich johns (Swanberg) as a famous antigay proselytizer, Aaron proposes to blackmail him for a nuptial nest egg. Plans go awry in classic noir fashion, Sam even supplying doleful hindsight narration (albeit oncamera and with a surprising lack of atmospheric foreboding). Pic’s improbable ending tone is less a cop-out than a playful genre twist.

Blackmail Boys


A Shumanski Brothers presentation of a Hands Up production. Executive producers, Bernard Shumanski, Richard Shumanski. Directed, written, edited by Bernard Shumanski, Richard Shumanski.


Camera (color, DV), Adam Wingard; music, Blue Cyclops Boy; music supervisor, Harry Shumanski. Reviewed on DVD, Jan. 25, 2011. Running time: 67 MIN.


Nathan Adloff, Taylor Reed, Joe Swanberg, Tammy Fana, Danny Rhodes.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety