This holiday season, “Cola de Mono” is the perfect gift for someone naughty. Out gay writer/director Alberto Fuguet’s film (available on DVD and streaming) is a slow-burn queer erotic thriller that pays homage to genre films from the ’80s — Brian DePalma’s thrillers in particular.
The story unfolds on Christmas Eve, 1986. Borja (Cristóbal Rodríguez-Costabal) is a bored and horny teenager who has contempt for his older brother Vicente (Santiago Rodríguez-Costabal, Cristóbal’s real-life brother). As their mother (Carmina Riego) goes off to bed, Vicente goes out cruising in the park. Meanwhile, Borja gets drunk on Cola de Mono, (an eggnog-like beverage), breaks into Vicente’s room, puts on his brother’s jockstrap, and makes some interesting discoveries.
What unfolds in these parallel stories that converge is both sexy and disturbing. And herein lies Fuguet’s brilliance: The filmmaker teases viewers as the characters navigate their queer sexuality, taking the story in unexpected directions. “Cola de Mono” jumps to 1999 in its last half hour with a virtuoso sequence set in a bathhouse. Fuguet is commenting on the power and danger of sexual discovery and coming of age. His daring film includes extensive nudity and explicit sex as well as shocking violence that will thrill discerning viewers. It’s also fun seeing actors play multiple roles. The precise editing reveals details — such as what transpires with a hunky gardener (Mauro Vaca) — throughout the film’s end credits. “Cola de Mono” is like the title cocktail: an acquired taste, but quite delicious. It demands repeat viewings.