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  • Ben Turner

Wild Awakening *


Starring: Fabían Castro, Christian Blanch, Júlia Hernández, Richie Ormon

Director: Joan Fermí Martí

You wouldn’t think there would be much of a gay scene on a horse farm in rural Spain, but if Wild Awakening is to be believed, this ranch is definitely the place to hang out. In an over the top telenovela style, this film is bursting at the seams with men incapable of keeping their shirts on, or their trousers for that matter. But for all its opportunity to revel in its genre, it fails to do it justice, feeling like a terrible misfire from start to finish.

Toni (Castro) runs a horse ranch with his sister Emma (Hernández), but while she does her best to keep the business going, he spends all the profits on raucous nights out. Waking up with a different man in his bed each morning, his promiscuity has caught the attention of a homophobic ranch-hand, whose son Aaron (Blanch) also works with him on the farm. But when both siblings begin to pursue Aaron, his father grows all the angrier at what he considers his employer’s licentiousness.

This is standard melodramatic fayre. Characters get angry very quickly; the best response to an insult is a slap; every private moment has a witness lurking in the shadows. The (terrible) music builds to regular climaxes underscoring the flattest of dialogue, presumably composed and recorded on the same keyboard over the course of a single afternoon. Characters are one-dimensional and their motives are spelt out like a Biff, Chip and Kipper book.

Soap opera, as a genre, should be both fun and entertaining. Of course it’s over the top and of course the dialogue is hammy, but Wild Awakening feels limp in its attempts either to embrace or reflect this. And behind all of it, the plot isn’t even that interesting. A love triangle with added horses, it pays more attention to Blanch’s chest than it does to attempting to form a coherent narrative of ANY kind. I’ve watched porn films with more story than this.

Castro is a capable enough performer, but Christian Blanch might as well have been a cardboard cut-out wheeled around on roller-skates for the sake of his sheer lack of charisma. He hoses himself down like an obedient go-go boy every few minutes, but there’s as much substance to his character as there is to a bag of candyfloss. But with the amount that everyone in front and behind the camera objectifies him, it would make sense to show us a reason as to why… but instead he seems little more than a slab of meat that’s been left in front of a camera and told to entertain itself.

Obviously there is a drag queen thrown into the mix as well – because every herd of beefcakes has a pet drag queen in tow who does day-drag for no apparent reason – but even she can’t lift this arid trudge to a canter (I would try more horse puns here, but the material seems hardly worth it). With wholly flat dialogue and a peculiar flashback sequence, the queen seems tacked on in an attempt to try and convince an audience that this isn’t just soft-core porn. Which, obviously, it is. And then to make everything worse, the film heads toward the two hour mark, which is unforgivable for a film of this insignificance. Over-long, ridiculous and painful; save yourself the effort and watch a Sean Cody video instead.

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#WildAwakening

Manchester, UK

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