“The urge for destruction is also a creative one. He wants something, but he is afraid to act…”

‘Chaser’ is a short movie by New York filmmaker Sal Bardo that subtly exposes the nature of the thinking behind bug chasing.

With just a 15 minute run time I was initially skeptical about how such a complex and controversial issue would be addressed but I can happily say that the film exquisitely approaches the subject with dignity.

Zach (played by Max Rhyser) is a young gay teacher from a conservative Jewish New York family, who, like many gay men, is accustomed to casual sex. The alienation Zach feels from his family is succinctly and effectively portrayed on screen, this contrasts against his deep engagement with his pupils at the school where he teaches.

The story is punctuated with snippets from lessons in which we see Zach asking students to discuss the nature of self-destruction in the literature that they’re studying.

See the short movie here, and more of the review below…

Chaser (Full Movie) from Sal Bardo on Vimeo.

The film sensitively touches on the topic of self harm, helping the viewer discover the emotions one might feel before and after self harming. The script effectively explains what Zach is going through without the need for explicit detail.

It’s a very clever plot-device that gives the story a dignified feel – before we are taken, voyeuristically, along with Zach to a private Breeding Ground party with a strict “no condoms allowed” policy.

The almost silent scene to the short focuses solely on Zach’s face and its changing expression as he plays bottom in a group sex session at the party. We see his eyes widen as he is passed around from man to man.

The only shortcoming of the film is that there’s no real message or “take away” at the end. The viewer is left with the knowledge of what happens, but nothing more than the bleak reality of the protagonists actions, and maybe it should be that way, artistically. But perhaps a topic such as this should come with at least a helpful insight, or a link to support/further information?

As a short drama the film brilliantly touches on a very delicate topic with a well cast team of actors and excellent scripting and stunningly simple cinematography.

beyondpositive gives Sal Bardo’s ‘Chaser’ an 8/10. It’s an impactful story that’s well acted and incredibly subtle, but lacks a supportive angle for a short that could be seen as a dramatised PSA.


  1. It is beautifully produced, yes, and doesn’t rely on context/motivations to define the actions of the main character, which leaves it open to some interesting interpretation. I only find the title — CHASER — to be problematic, because it isn’t in any way suggested he is chasing HIV, which most people would take from the title. He may be chasing intimacy, or escape, yes, which are things that modern HIV prevention must address. But “bug chasing” is more of a mythological beast than is often portrayed in the media, which is unfortunate. Not entirely non-existent, but more provocative than factual, in my opinion.


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