Back in August 2017 we mentioned that RuPaul’s Drag Race veterans Alaska Thunderfuck and Katya Zamolodchikova would soon appear in writer/director Sam Wineman’s independent film The Quiet Room, quite possibly the first horror film ever centered around LGBTQ mental health issues. Fresh from the film festival circuit, the official trailer just dropped, and it looks well-produced and understated yet disturbing — a good mix for a quality fright flick.
The film takes place in the psych ward of a local hospital where Michael (Jamal Davis) has awoken after a suicide attempt. Brian McCook (better known as Katya) plays David, one of the ward’s staff members, and Justin Honard (credited as Alaska Thunderfuck) plays Hopeless Hattie, a murderous demon that haunts patients like Michael who attempt suicide but don’t leave a note.
The film also stars Kit Williamson, an actor who appeared in Mad Men and the LGBT web series EastSiders; gay web-lebrity Chris Salvatore, who plays Jamal’s flirty psychward roommate; and scream queen Lisa Wilcox, who appeared in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and 5.
The Quiet Room has recently played the Outfest Fusion, Wicked Queer, Crypticon Seattle and Nevermore Film Festivals.
Here’s the official trailer for The Quiet Room:
The Quiet Room touts itself as “a collaboration of voices whose stories aren’t normally told in mainstream cinema,” and even its crew consisted almost entirely of minorities. Indeed, black male leads and openly gay actors are rare in horror films. But the real test will be seeing how carefully The Quiet Room depicts people with mental illness.
“Often times in film, particularly the horror genre, people suffering from mental illness are misrepresented, or worse, villainized,” says the website for the film.
Films of any genre run the risk of sensationalizing or glamorizing mental illness or mischaracterizing it altogether. But there’s hope this film will get it right, especially since one of its stars, McCook, recently left drag to go into mental health rehabilitation for meth addiction and hallucinations.
Getting a humane depiction of mental illness is especially important since the National Alliance on Mental Illness says LGBTQ people are three times more likely to experience mental illness than hetero people, four times more likely to have suicidal or self-harming thoughts and 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety and substance abuse issues.
While McCook will be playing his role out of drag, the actor playing Hopeless Hattie is credited as Alaska, making this possibly the first time in history a drag queen has portrayed a horror villain on film.