Grind (2014) – By Joshua Samford

The cinematic musical is an incredibly divisive genre. Similar to the way some young people react to country music, some film fans are willing to often claim hatred for this genre without actually having much experience with it. Throughout the better part of my own teens, I can assure you that this was the case for me as well. However, I’ve come to find that there may just be a musical for every particular taste or style. Approaching this genre with an open mind is always the first step, but seeking out a musical that delivers something that intrigues you on a personal level, that is probably the most important part. Grind is an independent thriller/musical that focuses on a gay community within New York that has become infatuated with a new phone app that essentially allows people to hook up quick and easily. Unknown to most, it is also being used by a serial killer who is picking out fresh prey from this assortment of young virile men.

Grind actually slaps its viewer right across the face early into the project. During the introductory sequence, viewers are likely to see the movie going into a very different direction. We watch as Vincent (played by Dazed & Confused star, Anthony Rapp) abducts some poor African American gentleman who had met up with him in a dark alley, obviously under the pretense of no-strings-attached sex. With Rapp’s bookish demeanor, and with him picking up a young African American man, one can’t help but have visions of Jeffrey Dahmer. However, visions of this being a disturbing and dark serial killer film are dashed, somewhat, in the very next scene, where the movie goes into a brightly lit, pop-fueled music video. It is at this point that it becomes apparent that Grind is certainly interested in doing things in its own way.

The nucleus for the film is a study on relationships within this community, in particular the two best friends in the lead. One hopes for more from their relationship, but the other knows the horrifying future that such a relationship would hold. Along the way, each does their own soul searching, usually through song, and the movie hangs upon their personalities. If either actor was miscast, the entire thing would not work. Thankfully, all involved are incredibly talented. Pasha Pellosie takes a role that would have, typically, been played as a general meathead, but he manages to give the character a tenderness that endears him to the viewer. Anthony Rapp, as the man with a dark/hidden soul, gives his character a sense of innate authenticity. Rapp doesn’t go for any sort of gimmicks with the role, no winks toward the audience in order for them to know that he’s a haunted or psychotic figure, but instead he plays him as a genuine being that comes across as being conflicted and torn on the inside.

Of course, no matter what, this is a musical and that means that mileage is going to vary. However, if I could speak in favor of the movie, this is an incredibly slick and stylish musical that comes across as more of an elongated music-video instead of anything remotely silly or inauthentic. If the project sounds remotely interesting to you, seek out the official website at: http://www.grindshortfilm.com