24th DAY, THE


It's been 24 days since Tom (Scott Speedman) has found out that he is HIV-positive. A closeted married man, he's been with only one man in his entire life, and seeks serious vengeance. (His wife committed suicide when she contracted the disease from him.) He locates Dan (James Marsden), the man he met five years ago, holds him hostage in his apartment and forcibly takes a blood sample. His plan is to release Dan if his AIDS test comes back negative, but kill him if it is positive. A psychological battle ensues between the two, with Dan doing everything in his power to get free, and Tom the implacable moral force, trying to discover the ultimate truth.

Writer-director Tony Piccirillo seems bent on making The 24th Day one super-edgy indie, an alternative to all those fluffy, brunch-and-bitchy-remark-laden depictions of modern gay life. With both actors giving it their intense all, he has certainly whipped up something arresting. Unfortunately, the whole thing plays too stagily on its one basic set of Tom's apartment. Claustrophobia unavoidably sets in, despite the admirably brave efforts of Speedman (TV's "Felicity") and Marsden (X-Men). The ceaseless twists and turns Piccirillo keeps introducing are at first intriguing, but eventually become tiresome, as if he's trying to hold our interest any way he can. When not dishing out or reacting to various earthshaking revelations, the guys natter about pressing topics like who was the best Charlie's Angel--Kate Jackson or Farrah Fawcett. Quentin Tarantino has so very much to answer for.

-David Noh