Reviewed by: Martin Gray

Socket is described as "a sci-fi thriller" and it probably is if you're the meekest of church mice. For thriller isn't the word I'd use to describe the film - "borer" maybe. "Stupid", "insulting" and "witless" also come to mind. Let's be generous and go for a phrase or two such as "badly written" and "ineptly acted".

Yes, I know this sounds mean, but this is one of the worst films I've ever had to sit through. The premise is that people who have had electrical accidents - lightning bolts, dodgy generators, poundshop vibrators, that kind of thing - gain, well, it's not actually very clear.

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The film starts with Bill Matthews (Alexander Armstrong lookalike Derek Long, whose performance is as exciting as his name), a top surgeon, waking up in hospital, surrounded by wooden people, and he's one of them - yes, it's hellish, but that's not the situation, it's the acting. The situation is that lots of electricity has passed through him, but he'll be OK bar a bit of nerve damage. And hey, hot intern Craig Murphy (Matthew Montgomery, almost decent) has been there every day and wants him to join a self-help group in a few weeks, when he's experienced... well, Craig's not telling. And Bill's not asking. That's the type of film this is - people neither ask nor answer obvious questions, as they come up. That creates suspense, see.

Which would be all very well, were Socket to actually bother answering the questions. So Bill doesn't ask what the problem is that Murphy reckons he'll encounter, he doesn't ask what the group is, and so on. He merely goes home with his friend and neighbour Carol (Rasool J'Han, in the wrong film, as she can act), but after she's gone, his TV is permanently in Poltergeist mode - fzzzzzz says the TV. Fzzzzzz, fzzzzzz. Does Bill try to sort this out, or switch the TV off? Nope, he merely touches the screen and next thing we know, it's a few days later. Carol arrives with her girlfriend Olivia (Allie Rivenbark, apparently on work experience at a film set) to find Bill has been overcome by a tidying frenzy. All concerned feel this is odd, forgetting that he's gay.

Overcome by the sheer oddness, he goes to the group Craig recommended. There, people share their terribly tedious tales of electrocution in an annoyingly edited sequence - figures flow back and forth across the screen interminably (though this is less annoying than a sequence that has Bill strip off for bed in time-lapse photography, saving, ooh, at least a second each time we jump). Then group members join hands - among them, the director, Sean Abley - and sparks fly. The following day Bill wakes up in bed with Craig, naked, but they've not had sex, the most fantastic concept in the entire movie). We immediately flash back to see what amazing event we missed, rendering the previous mini-scene pointless. Turns out the group went to a club and danced and snogged. Wild.

We're still not told what the particular effect is that everyone has experienced - "blissed out" pretty much covers it, it seems, but no more so than your average urban clubbie. Oh, and they plug into wall sockets via bent forks and pretend it's fun. Craig warns Brian not to take alcohol or drugs as it interferes with "the circuit" but as said circuit seems no more exciting than being under the influence of drink or drugs, what's the point of going the electrical route? Of course, Brian doesn't ask and Craig doesn't tell.

Over time, Craig moves in with Bill and when they connect physically, it seems they have excitement-filled flashbacks to previous electrical moments. Electricity equals ecstacy, or something (the power bills must be huge). There don't seem to be any more moments of lost time, as experienced by Bill that first night. Nope, there's just dull sex and epilepsy-unfriendly montages. But where Craig is happy to have lots of snogging and the occasional group encounter (is that what the Americans call circuit parties?), Bill craves more. He invents Wolverine-style retractable metal wrist fangs so group members can connect in a more organic manner (how a bit of metal in the wrist is more organic that a fork in the hand isn't explained). He begins stalking the streets, an energy vampire sticking his metal bits into homeless guys and prostitutes - it seems we no longer need people to have been electrocuted for Bill to benefit. The victims die and Bill's life spirals out of control.

Though not in an interesting manner. This film had me swearing at the screen, so stupid are the characters and story. Try hearing a line of dialogue such as "This feels different from a plug socket - more organic or something" and not cursing. And yes, I've gone on and on about the acting, but surely there aren't so few unemployed thesps in Hollywood that you have to employ people who make porn stars sound Shakespearean? One scene, in which Bill is meant to be losing his temper with an intern, is so bad it's almost laughable (shame it never went the whole way, as laughable would have been at least entertaining).

And given this is aimed at the gay market (only gay folk are hit by lightning, it seems), why is the sex so very, very boring? There's no chemistry between the leads, so why make them pretend-shag so much?

Scenes come and go, there's no through line taking us to a mounting climax. The film is logicless, and listless. When the end does come, it's terribly feeble, and the closing image is pathetically predictable. Science fiction? Well, if making 90 minutes seem like a lifetime is science fiction, this film succeeds.

Reviewed on: 04 Jun 2008
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Socket packshot
Bolt hits dolt, craves volts.
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Director: Sean Abley

Writer: Sean Abley

Starring: Derek Long, Matthew Montgomery, Rasool J'Han, Allie Rivenbark

Year: 2007

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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