By Jeff Walsh
Rock Haven is a simple story of a young boy having to rectify his religious beliefs with his sexuality. There isn't much of a subplot, plot twist, or surprise in the entire movie, just a simple story well told.
Brady recently moved to the California coast, where he reflects on his spirituality along the picturesque coastline. He plans to go a religious college in the fall; his Bible is always close at hand. His mother plans to start a religious school.
One day, while walking along the beach, he sees his hot, sculpted neighbor Clifford (Owen Alabado) shirtless, standing on the rocks near the beach. Brady immediately retreats home, obviously discomforted by the sight.
Of course, their paths continue to cross and we learn that Clifford and his liberal mother are completely at ease with Clifford's sexuality and attraction to Brady. Brady, on the other hand... not so much.
Clifford sees Brady as a genuinely good-hearted person who would be a great catch, if he can get him to accept himself. Brady sees Clifford as a test of his faith, one he hopes to overcome.
While the story is very basic, the two leads really seem to have a chemistry together, and a motivation to keep coming back together to achieve some sense of bliss. In those moments, Clifford sees everything he wants; Brady, everything he fears but can't deny.
The movie is very meditatively paced, with beautiful shots of the Northern California seascape, and it really suits the spare tale. All of the secondary characters are well cast, although the director's take as the priest rings false. For such devout Christians, he seems a far too liberal priest, not to mention spouting off dialogue that seemed a cross between Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Matrix, where the answers are all just rephrased versions of the questions. Sean Hoagland (Brady) and Owen Alabado (Clifford) ably carry the movie together, and even make their sex scene not seem gratuitous but an earned culmination to their emotional arcs. (OK, that's a bit of a stretch, but it was pretty hot nonetheless). I also liked the fact that, unlike many films, Clifford was given a backstory as well, so it was more than him just being a hot-bodied backdrop to Brady's story, and Alabado seemed to handle the delicate balance of Clifford accepting himself while trying to respect Brady's journey.
If anything, the film's message might be too obvious to gay audiences, and straight audiences may not want cock in their otherwise PG-rated gay-conflicted romance tale. But, if you get past the religious message, there is a nice love story in there of two people drawn to one another for different reasons and trying to work out their differences to achieve something they both want.