Still from Conversion Therapist
Still from Conversion Therapist

Conversion Therapist follows a pansexual, polyamorous trio as they set out to kidnap and convert a ‘pray-the-gay-away’ therapist, using some of the same methods he used on queer youth and some that are maybe a little more extreme.

On June 12th, 2016, Bears Rebecca Fonté awoke to the news of the Pulse nightclub shooting, a day many of us from around the world remember with such clarity. A day that would repeatedly stab at the hearts of the LGBTQIA community for years to come. Many of us found ourselves asking what kind of world were we living in and were we safe? Following the blood bath that was the Pulse nightclub shooting Fonté couldn’t begin to comprehend the bigotry of many religious people, particularly ministers, people with a voice a platform from which they can spread their hate. These religious entities did more than just spread vitriol, they believed the terrorist had done the world a favour. It was this bigotry and homophobia that inspired Fonté to redirect her anger in creating a horror short film like none before it.

Prior to being able to create this film with the integrity and authenticity, it deserved; Fonté realised that she had created a ticking clock. Conversion Therapy features a transgender character (Salina) and Fonté realise that she wasn’t going to be able to portray Salina’s truth without first living her own. So, with the launch of her Kickstarter campaign Fonté also came out to the world as transgender.

Fonté is very passionate about transgender people being able to tell their own stories and it was because of this that Evalyn Jake was cast in her acting debut. Evelyn’s task was not an easy one, particularly for a novice actor. The emotions portrayed by Evelyn, particularly through her harrowing monologue, were raw and would hit any audience right in the heart. Evelyn is a character who is not easy to dislike.

Fonté regular Sara Fletcher will live on in the nightmares of bigots for years to come as the vengeful and seductive Justine. Conversion Therapy deliberately teeters on the edge of torture porn and Fletcher’s character is vital in this position. From her strategically chosen outfits reminiscent of a school uniform to the skilful way she wraps her mouth around the world cock. It may be hard to draw the line between terrified and aroused. Exactly how Fonté intended.

Although Conversion Therapy is definitely a horror short film, the majority of the violence occurs off-camera. That being said, movies lovers with a queasy nature should be advised that blood definitely does fly. This vengeful trio is seeking to make this conversion therapist pay for his sins and that he does.

While the message and the content are consistent and well communicated the Conversion Therapist itself is a little clunky. The timeline is somewhat clunky and it is hard to keep up with what is happening as the emotions of the characters change constantly throughout.

Conversion Therapy is the realisation of the darkest fantasies of many LGBTQIA+ people who have had to suffer at the hands of conversion therapists, ministers and so many other people who do not understand the LGBTQIA+ community. Perhaps that’s where these fantasies should stay, as fantasies. While the movie will speak to many people in the LGBTQIA+ community it is worth noting that acts of violence against conservatives merely give the right-wing more ammunition with which to fire.

Conversion Therapy is an extreme reaction and a nightmare but when faced with a lifetime of hate and ignorance, perhaps Conversion Therapy is the answer?