Written and directed by Samuel Van Grinsven, co-written by Jory Anast, a teenager explores his burgeoning sexuality through an obsession with anonymous, no-strings sexual encounters. Starring: Conor Leach, Simon Croker, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Anthony Brandon, Joshua Shediak, Ed Wightman, Patrick Cullen, Damian de Montemas and Samuel Barrie.
The internet may be a wonderous thing but it seems to be the more useful and accessible it becomes, the danger it holds increases and young people are exceptionally susceptible. Sequin (Leach) is the perfect example of that, it’s intensely disturbing how little sense of self-preservation he has and how he doesn’t think ahead to the consequences of his actions. It’s genuinely surprising how disturbing this story is, and yet it feels as though the writing doesn’t quite have a handle on it. It gets across the risks of casual sex and anonymity but doesn’t entirely grasp the ramifications of his age, he’s a child and these men certainly are not. It plays in scenes of him in school as a reminder but it’s not quite enough. The tone it sets is a dark one, it’s almost an erotic thriller with a coldness and intensity.
Grinsven’s direction met with Jay Grant and Carina Burke’s cinematography, feels like a blend of Beach Rats and The Neon Demon. Its use of colour gives a powerful energy, adding an unsettling edge to its creeping, troubling story. It’s incredibly atmospheric and moves at a smoothly gripping pace, although at times it feels like it doesn’t linger on its more important moments, building a robust tone but not adding depth to its story. Grinsven’s style feels unusual, he takes a few chances with his choice of angles but it feeds into the coldness. It’s extremely modern in its use of texts on screen, it adds to its youth but does become a slightly repetitive device as time goes on.
Conor Leach gives a great performance as Sequin, capturing his overconfidence, vulnerability, naivety and youthful hunger. The height of how convincing his portrayal is comes in the fact that it’s genuinely uncomfortable to watch at times. There’s one other stand out, although it’s a brief appearance, by Anthony Brandon Wong who provides a loving mentor role, his performance is kind and generous; he adds a touch of warmth which is a pleasant surprise.
Sequin in a Blue Room is a disturbing, unsettling and intense drama that feels more like a thriller. Its style is highly atmospheric and truly enhances the darkness to its story. It doesn’t entirely explore the depths of the issues that it raises, leaving a few loose threads along the way but it undoubtedly makes a strong impression. It makes an undeniable case for teaching young people to make better decisions when it comes to casual sex and dating apps.