I was recently given the opportunity to watch a thriller that won Best LGBT Film at the London Independent Film Festival. Two genres you may not normally pair together, it is one of the many things that makes B&B one of the most suspenseful and well executed films of the year. Dare I say it, this film is a game-changer. And it needs to be talked about.
When lovers Marc (Tom Bateman) and Fred (Sean Teale) were refused a double bed at a Christian bed and breakfast, they went to court. One year later, after winning the case, they decide to return, partially flaunting their success and love, while aggravating their host (Paul McGann). But what should have been an amusing weekend turns into the most terrifying of their lives when a threatening and unexpected guest appears. But just how far will it go?
Nick Wall ©Band B Films Ltd
If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll know that I’m no stranger to films, whether they dominate the box office or are under the radar. But I can honestly say that I have never seen anything quite like B&B. It’s something that I have no choice but to call a work of art. Beautiful and haunting, funny and frightening, it was everything you could ask for from a film with more twists than I can possibly begin to count. However, it’s B&B‘s ingenuity that most captures my attention.
There’s a very noticeable inequality in the film industry, both on and off screen, and in many different ways. Believe me, some of the numbers are nothing short of harrowing. But why is that? Why is it that, for example, we see far more straight couples than gay in films? Why do we see more heterosexual leads than homosexual? Is it simply habit? Perhaps. But if that’s the case, this habit can be broken, and this film takes a major step towards that. It conquers the concept of homophobia, but more importantly, it does so without throwing it in the face of audiences. At no point does this story feel preachy. Only truthful and, frighteningly enough, real.
What made this film most terrifying was that it wasn’t a story set in another world or time, and realistically this B&B wasn’t all that remote. It isn’t like civilization was hours away. But there still managed to be this overwhelming sense of danger. It’s something I think we’ve all felt at one point or another. Perhaps you were in a crowded train station or a busy mall. It’s public, but yet for some reason that makes you more afraid. These characters didn’t find themselves in some remote town. They just found themselves at the wrong B&B at the wrong time. And isn’t that what we’re all scared of?
Our society has taken leaps forward, and at times it’s easy to forget just how present homophobia still is, how far some people are willing to go to act against it. This film is really eye-opening in that sense. It reminds us that not everyone is accepting, which personally only added to the fear.
Nick Wall ©Band B Films Ltd
But I feel the need to emphasize one thing. I do not consider this an LGBTQ film. While sexuality plays a very important part to the plot, and many of the characters are gay, I wouldn’t sit down with a friend and say, “Hey, I just watched this great LGBTQ film.” I would say, “I just watched this amazing thriller, and it also happens to feature LGBTQ characters!” This was something writer/director Joe Ahearne (Doctor Who, Trance) was very aware of.
“I wanted to do a thriller in the Hitchcock vein but with gay characters making the wrong choices and getting terrified out of their wits. B&B goes beyond the gay relationship movie. It’s a thriller with a married couple at the centre, something I haven’t seen before.”
There’s no doubt in my mind that Ahearne succeeded. Like Hitchcock’s Psycho, B&B had me on the edge of my seat from the first shot to the last. It pulls the audience every which way, creating plot twists that are genuinely surprising. And like the best thrillers, it asks the audience to be introspective and empathetic, even with the seemingly worst characters.
The cast, small and intimate, was well chosen. Tom Bateman (Da Vinci’s Demons, Snatched) is a superb combination of fun loving and aggravating, while Sean Teale (Skins, Reign) captures an impressive balance of paranoia and intuitive awareness. Paul McGann (Doctor Who, Queen of the Damned) is perfectly antagonistic in ways that will in some moments anger you, and in others leave you unable to do anything but roll your eyes. But I can honestly say that though he is such a predictable character, even he will surprise you by the end.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve watched a genuinely good thriller, one that left me feeling surprised and in awe. B&B far exceeded my expectations, and I, without hesitation, recommend it to everyone. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and the combination of genres makes it a unique and beautiful, albeit haunting, experience.