An erotic, indie, sci-fi fantasy like no other, Socket finds a pair of gay lovers literally getting a jolt as they plug in for pleasure. Written and directed by Sean Abley, the movie centers on Dr. Bill Matthews (Derek Long), a square-jawed surgeon who, after getting struck by lightning, gets some extra special care from mysterious, smoldering intern Craig Murphy (Matthew Montgomery). Having survived the same natural accident, Craig introduces his new friend to an underground group that uses electricity to reach dizzying new heights of ecstasy. Soon the two develop an insatiable appetite for one another that matches their illicit love for… wall outlets. You see, using his talents as a surgeon, Bill goes that extra step in chasing down the ultimate charge.
A movie about the intersection of the biological, mechanical and sexual, Socket is a film that owes a lot to the work of David Cronenberg; I’m thinking in particular of Videodrome, eXistenZ, and 1996’s Crash — the latter with its focus on the psycho-sexual thrill pursued by a subculture of automobile accident victims, who seek out such incidents and use the adrenalized levels of tension, anxiety and energy they produce (as well as certain, umm, new-wound orifices) to take the notion of “getting off” to an entirely new level. I don’t mean to sound condescending or flip, but the imaginativeness and vividness of Abley’s premise is so stirring — and at the same time rife with visual metaphor and other parallels — that it’s hard to believe him when he says in interviews on the film’s DVD that he’s not sure why he framed it as a story centering around a gay couple. Sure, there’s nothing explicitly gay about the narrative (insofar as the movie isn’t a coming-out story, or anything like that), but there’s a discernible level of social commentary just underneath the surface that wouldn’t work as well if the characters were straight.
An Outfest 2007 presentation, Socket is hampered somewhat by its shoestring budget and meager production value. The story is so outlandish that you want the movie to unfold in a more heightened state. The acting, too, is a bit uneven, though Long effectively channels some of the same smug, plastic eerieness that makes Julian McMahon such a good fit on Nip/Tuck. It’s a credit to Abley, though, that the movie retains a slight sense of humor about itself, even as it goes through some more ominous, thriller-ish paces. Overall this is a movie whose success is driven more by the audacity of its core idea than some of its execution, but what an idea it is.
Housed in a clear Amray case, Socket comes presented on DVD in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with Dolby digital 5.1 audio. Its lesser supplemental extras consist of a one-minute photo montage and a clutch of a half-dozen trailers for this movie and other TLA releases. The big bonus highlight is easily the disc’s 34-minute, comprehensive and engaging making-of featurette. Powered by interviews with Abley, producers John Carrozza and Doug Prinzivalli, cinematographer Ivan Corona and almost all of the actors, this featurette is a nice behind-the-scenes glimpse into the DIY tribulations and joys of indie filmmaking. Some folks along for the ride, like actress Amy Seeley, are old friends and colleagues of Abley, with working histories dating back 10 years or more. In a moment of appreciated candor, Montgomery and a couple of other newcomers admit to worrying about or at least considering the closeknittedness of the cast and producing team, but feeling relief in fitting in so quickly. Rehearsal footage, honest reflection, good-natured goofing off — it’s all here in this half-hour valentine, a solid retrospective that definitely enhances this disc’s value. To watch the movie’s trailer, click here; to purchase the DVD via TLA’s site, click here. B- (Movie) B (Disc)