Shortly before Benjamin (Cooper Koch) leaves town to start his gay porn career in Los Angeles, he and straight best friend Dom (Jose Colon) hang out in a Maine gay bar in Carter Smith’s “Swallowed” (All The Dead Boys Productions).
Benjamin tells Dom he’ll miss him, and the bar, but can’t think of a good reason to stay.
Dom tells Benjamin he has a going away present for him, but they must make one quick stop first. At a work site, Dom meets up with Alice (Jena Malone), a friend of his cousin’s. Alice is a drug dealer and Dom has agreed to make a drug run for her across the border in Canada in exchange for $15k, which he intends to give to Benjamin. But the drug run isn’t a simple one, and it involves Dom swallowing said product drug-mule style. When he refuses, Alice pulls a gun and he complies, swallowing five mysterious packets. Benjamin swallows one, too. As you may have guessed, the one quick stop is anything but.
At the designated rest area where Dom is to make the delivery, he gets into a fight with a local redneck who was harassing Benjamin. The redneck punches Dom in the gut, setting off a potentially dangerous chain reaction. Alice shows up at the rest area, promising to get Dom to a hospital, but in truth diverts them to a cabin owned by her boss, Rich (out actor Mark Patton) so she can extract the drugs.
En route, Alice explains what it is exactly they’re transporting. It’s an exotic bug whose bite, when first hatched, provides an intense high resulting in, among other things, a nine-hour erection. But unfortunately, it also temporarily costs the user the use of their legs. Pros and cons, don’t you know?
Once inside the cabin, Benjamin greases up his hand and assists Dom with the delivery. Because, as Alice says while she’s pointing a gun at Benjamin, “You don’t want them hatching” inside of Dom. And then Rich arrives. His presence ratchets up the tension, but in terms of horror, there’s not much to speak of. However, one of the sacks does break and Dom dies. But this is a lost horror opportunity for director Smith. Why didn’t the beast burst forth from Dom’s chest a la “Alien?”
Not long after, Rich, who’s in a frenzy over the loss of profit dead bugs symbolize, kills Alice. That leaves Benjamin and Rich, and the creepiness potential increases.
What follows is a hot bath, an attempted seduction, a full-frontal nude scene (Benjamin’s, not Rich’s), a daring escape, and a brutal act of revenge.
Cooper Koch is in the process of becoming the Scream Queen of 2022 with his performances in “Swallowed,” as well as Peacock’s “They/Them.” While he’s the best part of “Swallowed” (and that’s not saying much), it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here.
“Swallowed” will be screened on Aug. 12 as part of the Popcorn Frights Film Fest at Savor Cinema in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are available exclusively at popcornfrights.com.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of eight books including the poetry chapbook Fear of Muses (Souvenir Spoon Books, 2022). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.