Verow, who wrote the script with his writing partner James Derek Dwyer, incorporates many familiar queer narratives and supernatural elements for a story with many twists and turns, some of which work better than others. In flashbacks and dreams, Rick’s past traumas reveal the end of his marriage with his wife (Karina Arroyave) after she caught him naked with a man in their apartment, the sadness he feels when hugging his son (Andrew LaFerrera) goodbye, the guilt over his mother’s (Marlene Forte) Alzheimer’s and painful accusations that his father left them because Rick was gay. That in itself is a lot to cope with even before a demonic popper-poppin’ vamp commences a killing spree in Rick’s neck of the woods.
Influenced by movies like “Cruising,” “Peeping Tom,” and “Blow-Up,” the script works up quite a bit of suspense—especially when Rick is playing both voyeur as photographer and detective, as well as the target—but struggles to sustain such anxiety in proximity to a clumsy voiceover reading of Rick’s inner monologue and an amateur supporting cast. When Rick decides to return to the forbidden scene of the crime, he tells the audience, “Of course, I returned. Never is never a really long time. I always get sucked back in. All is forgotten, forsaken, forlorn for loins. The brain shuts down and the body takes over.” This is not a one-time occurrence but a running inner monologue that takes the mystery away from Díaz’s performance.
As Rick, Díaz is the tender but tough spirit in the film. His performance channels Rick’s pain from his past and present so clearly that any flashbacks or references to things that happened before the movie seem almost superfluous. Mostly dressed in black, with no intentions of standing out, he seems to be grieving; using his camera to connect with others in the Ramble before allowing himself to be vulnerable. Brown as his nemesis, the killer, makes good on his threatening trench coat presence with a razor-sharp knife and piercing blue eyes. There is no remorse or softness in his character, and in confronting this demon, Rick is able to find his confidence.