Breaking Glass Pictures,

Rob Moretti

Sean Paul Lockhart.
Rob Moretti,
Blanche Baker,
Suzanne Didonna,
Rebekah Aramini,
Max Rhyser

Unrated, 94 minutes

The Trouble
With Caleb
by Michael D. Klemm
Posted online March, 2014

A disturbed young man, who has just enjoyed marathon sex with his new boyfriend, is in the bathroom taking his meds. He is calm and he is happy, and then painful memories of his insane and abusive mother break the mood. Naked, he stares in the mirror and pleads, “Please, not now.” 

You never know who you are going to meet on the internet. Truth (2013), from writer/director Rob Moretti, is one of two recent films that I’ve seen about an internet hookup that starts off sweet before abruptly turning sour. Truth is, for most of its first hour, a touching love story but the director reveals in the very first shot (a close-up of two maniacal eyes) that things are going to end badly. After we watch a frantic young man seize a large butcher knife in his kitchen, the director cuts to the same man, handcuffed in a jail cell. He claims to have no memory of what happened. A psychologist (Blanche Baker of Sixteen Candles) tells him to start at the beginning and an elaborate flashback follows. Truth is an oddball thriller with great potential but, despite the filmmakers’ efforts, fails to hit its mark. Parts of this film are very disturbing while other sections, sadly, end up being unintentionally hilarious.

Caleb (Sean Paul Lockhart) looks like the boy next door but appearances can be deceiving. He meets an older man online. Their ages are never stated but, presumably, Caleb is in his twenties and Jeremy (director Moretti) is in his forties. They meet at the coffee shop where Caleb works. Jeremy brings flowers because “a gentleman always brings flowers.” They hit it off splendidly; after some sappy dialogue and a few sweet, tentative kisses, they go back to Caleb’s place for a night of steamy sex. The sex is explicit without quite being porn. It is erotic and tender, yet the ominous background music alerts the audience that something might be awry.

Caleb’s innocent appearance is a smokescreen; in actuality he has almost as many issues as Norman Bates. Having lived through a hellish childhood at the hands of his mentally ill, alcoholic mother, Caleb has more than a few scars. He is possessive and needy, and appears at times to have never grown up (a display case filled with toy horses is straight out of  The Glass Menagerie). Jeremy will have his hands full. He quickly discovers Caleb’s abandonment issues when he leaves one morning without saying good-bye. Later, he finds a medicine cabinet filled with psychotropic drugs for depression and anxiety. Actually, if he had any brains, this should have been reason enough to run for the hills but he stays in the role of lover, father figure and counselor. This turns out to be a big mistake. 

While their romance blossoms, the narrative is interrupted by traumatic flashbacks of Caleb’s childhood. We also witness his recent, and disastrous, trip to the mental hospital to make peace with his mother. These scenes set the stage for what is to come. Eventually, Caleb will throw out his meds and then start cutting himself. He will also buy a tarantula (Jeremy is scared of spiders) and you know that he will terrorize his lover with it later. Some of this is unsettling but, truth be told, a lot of it is silly too. When the thriller part of the story really kicks in, the third act eventually implodes on itself.

It’s not a spoiler to reveal that Caleb will snap and keep Jeremy handcuffed to his bed. Even if you haven’t seen it in the trailer, Caleb is in jail and it’s obvious from the film’s first shots that he did something wrong. I will not reveal the reason for his breakdown, but the film’s worst lapse in logic occurs during the scenes leading up to it. Jeremy has just told Caleb that the last eight months have been wonderful (until he said that, I had no idea they were together for more than a week or two). And then, one night while Jeremy sleeps, Caleb takes his wallet and looks at his driver’s license to find out where he lives (so he can bring him flowers too).  He gets a big shock when he gets there and discovers that the man he loves has not been entirely truthful with him. It’s a powerful moment - that packs quite a whallop - but this is my problem with what we have just seen and it’s a big one... they’ve been together for eight months and in all that time Caleb has never been to Jeremy’s place? Or asked to see it? Or ever wondered why their meetings are always at his house?

Calling Truth flawed is an understatement. The trouble with this film is that the good parts wind up being negated by the bad. A few scenes are so overblown that they almost become camp. The worst one is the very ugly flashback of Caleb visiting his mother in the madhouse. It is impossible not to howl with laughter when he comes out to his mom and she screams “Your kind is disgusting! I can’t stand that I squeezed you out of my vagina!” As soon as that line was uttered I could no longer take anything in the film seriously. There is also another ludicrous flashback – one that Caleb cannot possibly remember - where his mother repeatedly punches her very pregnant belly. Earlier, I had tried to ignore the flashback that channeled Mommie Dearest by having mother smear food all over her little boy’s face when he won't eat (with flash cuts of the adult Caleb’s face getting smeared up too) but that vagina comment sent this film over a cliff. 

There is actually a decent film buried inside of this one. But it’s overwhelmed by the plot holes, bad music, over-written dialogue, and a melodramatic ending. It’s not all bad though. A good part of the initial romance is nicely developed, but the mood gets broken by a corny and clichéd 1970s Love Story montage interlude that even has our boys skipping in the park to happy guitar music. Yikes. There are also some horse riding scenes that are straight out of a bad 1970s television movie. However, the scenes where Jeremy is handcuffed to Caleb’s bed are mostly underplayed and are actually quite creepy. And sometimes violent - though the spider scene was lame.

Aside from the mother, who not only chews the scenery but swallows it whole, the cast is good and the two leads have good chemistry together. A former porn star, (under the name Brent Corrigan), Sean Paul Lockhart is making a name for himself as an actor in narrative queer films (Judas Kiss, Triple Crossed). He’s tackling more challenging roles – even though they usually still include full frontal nude scenes. He might not be Anthony Hopkins or Anthony Perkins, but his Caleb projects the right amounts of innocence and malevolence.  A rather dorky hairdo adds to his boyishness, and also makes him look more “off” when he flips his lid.

I don’t doubt the filmmakers’ collected sincerity and dedication when making this film; regrettably they weren’t always successful. Perhaps everyone was just trying too hard. One last note: the credits at the end of the film actually lists the underwear designer. I suppose this was important since the two leads are in their briefs for a good chunk of the film’s running time. Truth might be a very un-even thriller but we can all agree that the underwear is fabulous.


Sean Patrick Lockhart also appears in:
Judas Kiss
Triple Crossed
As Brent Corrigan:
The Big Gay Musical
Another Gay Sequel