Some movies can travel a ton of miles from a simple premise, especially the kind of nightmare scenarios that fuel thrillers and horror movies. Green Room was as minimalist as possible — a rock band sees something they shouldn’t see in a pub run by neo-Nazis and barricades themselves in the Green Room. It’s a great little premise (just like Rope, Buried and other claustrophobic thrillers before it) that only requires a handful of actors and a small budget.

Swallowed is in this camp, but with an emphasis on the “camp” itself. The Horror Thriller has a twisted and ingeniously simple idea – two friends become Bodypackers by swallowing condoms full of medicines and smuggling them across the border, and things go terribly wrong. Before the medicine can be completely emptied, it is overcome into the intestines, causing the condom to break and the contents to escape. Normally, this would be a passed away sentence, because heroin or another medicine contained in condoms floods the system. In Swallowed, the medicines are not just powder or stones; they are alive.

Ingestion is unpleasant and worth it

A stereotypical Redneck character walks into a public restroom where Dom is trying to rinse off the condoms he swallowed (the character is a skinny caricature, but he represents the kind of unbridled homophobic hostility that so many queer people fear). An altercation ensues and Dom is punched in the stomach.

As Alice explains after, these condoms are not filled with typical medicines, but are in fact living creatures, revolting little insects whose bites make you soar and excite you (comparable to licking a toad from the Sonoran desert).

With Dom’s guts in a rut, he and Ben are led by Alice to a cabin in the woods, where they attempt to remove Dom’s remaining condoms without tearing them. It’s delicate, tense and awkward. There was a classic French film, the wages of fear, in which desperate men drove trucks full of nitroglycerin through the jungle to earn a lot of money, but of course the chemical would explode and finish you if it was too disturbed. Ingestion, in this sense, is like the reward of fear if nitroglycerin were condoms and the South American jungle was Dom’s colon. Maybe call it The Wages of Queer, because the Movie is incredibly clever about the peril cost of that identity.

Yes, Swallowed doesn’t shy away from the very unpleasant and extremely vulnerable act of fishing medicine out of a man’s Anus, but to his credit, he manages to make it exciting and visceral instead of a horror movie gag. Things get worse when Alice’s boss, played to psychotic perfection by Mark Patton, shows up at the cottage and asks for her medication. Patton waves a gun in his art cowboy jacket and his spiked, dyed hair, Patton is both hilarious and intimidating as hell, playing an old queen with deep problems who thinks he”s the right guy.

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