Review: Artsy erotic thriller ‘The Breeding’ overdoes pretense

Marcus Bellamy in the movie "The Breeding."
(Breaking Glass Pictures)

Director Daniel Armando and screenwriter Dane Joseph throw a bit of everything into “The Breeding,” a tale of dangerous sexual obsession that also functions as both an arty cinematic essay on race relations, and soft-core erotica — although it’s mostly the latter.

Marcus Bellamy plays Thomas, a New York cartoonist who sometimes struggles to finish his pages, because he gets distracted and aroused by the men he’s drawing. It doesn’t help that when his boyfriend’s away, Thomas goes prowling for guys who share his fascination with raw, aggressive sex.

When one of his dates crosses the line between kinky play and outright exploitation, Thomas finds himself chained in a cage, being sexually assaulted while his captor reads books to him about slave/master relationships in the antebellum South.

“The Breeding” sometimes seems to be using “Hostel” as a model, and sometimes “Fatal Attraction.” But for the most part, the movie’s genre elements are sparse, as Armando draws inspiration from ’80s NYC indies like “Smithereens” and “She’s Gotta Have It,” where social commentary and expressive cinematic experimentation are inextricable.


Still, there’s a fine line between artistic ambition and pretentious excess, and “The Breeding” crosses over to the latter frequently, with its long musical montages and unmotivated cinematic gimmickry. The movie’s well-meaning, but also tedious and self-indulgent, with only brief flashes of originality — and even those are quickly interrupted by yet another explicit sex scene.


‘The Breeding’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes


Playing: Starts Sept. 7, Laemmle Glendale