An unusual protagonist raises this film above the usual fare. Ricky is a young-ish guy who has been in a relationship with a wealthy, older gay couple for around a year. He's fairly content with this ménage-a-trois, and believes the couple love him. The film opens just before Christmas - the couple are off to visit relations, leaving Ricky behind to house-sit. The morning of their departure, he overhears one saying to the other that he wanted "a new toy" for Christmas, evidently referring to finding a replacement for Ricky.
Left alone for the holidays, depressed at the rejection, Ricky spirals downwards into a string of faceless one-night stands and explorers the use of hard drugs. He tells each trick that he plans to commit suicide on New Years' Eve. They mostly brush him off, interested only in a fleeting sexual encounter. The one man he does meet to whom he feels some genuine emotions is Blake, a college student, and all-round nice-guy. Ricky had been thrown out of home for telling his parents that he was gay; in contrast, Blake has an open, loving family environment - everything that Ricky most desires. But when Ricky presses for sex, Blake runs.
The faceless sexual encounters and drugs increase. New Years Eve is approaching...time for Ricky to put his plan into effect?
'The Houseboy' starts off somewhat bland, and the viewer can be forgiven for thinking that it will be just another low-budget fluff piece, the stereotypical 'gay movie'. In some ways it is - family conflict, lashings of nudity and sex - but Ricky's character develops impressively as the film proceeds, becoming increasingly disturbed as New Years' Eve draws closer. Not an easy role, but Nick May turns in a credible performance as the progressively dazed, scared and obsessive Ricky. This characterization, together with some surreal moments (snorting coke with Santa Claus) and a darker look at desire, make 'The Houseboy' into more than it first appears. I would actually give this film 3 and a half stars, in recognition of its potential.
Plenty of extras complete the DVD: deleted scenes, extra footage and on-set rehearsals, alongside the usual stills gallery and trailers.