NewFest 2019 Film Review: Last Ferry ★★★1/2

Last Ferry is a pulpy thriller serving up Fire Island fantasies with a touch of sexy-psychopath that plays out like a gay urban legend.

Joseph (Ramon O. Torres), a young lawyer in Manhattan, drops everything on the spur of the moment to go to Fire Island for the first time – only to find it sparsely populated. Undeterred, he buys some beach-wear and goes in search of some off-season fun. An unfortunate hook-up leaves him drugged and mugged, but not before he thinks that he witnesses a murder on the beach.

Torres is a likable, if at times inscrutable, lead (he also produced, wrote and co-edited the film). He brings a believably naïve charm to Joseph, who spends a lot of the film looking bewildered and out of place. He is surrounded by a group of exaggerated new friends who add flavour to the whole affair – from the loud, camp guy to the sensitive, handsome caregiver, to the moody, sexy loner.

The scenes of the inexperienced Joseph discovering a group of gay friends and slowly coming out of his shell are nicely played and generate a real warmth against the cold, beach house backdrop of the Pines. Joseph’s reticent trust of these newcomers has an edge as he slowly starts to suspect one of them of the murder he believes he witnessed.

Director Jaki Bradley and cinematographer Alexa Wolf give the film a good visual sense, but for a thriller Last Ferry is a bit light on thrills. Most of the cast get little to do outside their simple characterisation (which, in fairness is quite fun to watch – I’d happily have brunch with these boys). Sheldon Best’s Cameron (the cute, caring one) delivers a lot of exposition while acting as ‘straight-man’ to his animated friends. Myles Clohessy’s Raphael (the sexy, moody one) spends the film glowering from the corner – I mean, he’s damn sexy while he does it, but the script doesn’t offer him a lot more to play with.

It all feels like one of those rumours that spreads: “I know a friend of a friend who knew a guy who got stoned in the Pines and is convinced he saw someone getting murdered while he was getting blown in the bushes, but they were probably just having a loud orgasm, anyway that’s why I never go cruising anymore because there are murderers out there – also mosquitos”.

While it doesn’t hit the heights of other gay thrillers like 2013’s Stranger by the Lake, there is an innocent charm to Last Ferry that smoothes over some of the cracks. In the end you just want to give poor Joseph a cup of tea and a hug – the poor guy’s had a really shit week!

By Chad Armstrong

Last Ferry screened at the 31st NewFest New York LGBTQ Film Festival.

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