Subverting the Bury Your Gays Trope in The Quarry

Subverting the Bury Your Gays Trope in The Quarry

This article contains spoilers for The Quarry.

They say there’s nothing quite like summer love, and I was determined to make it happen for two of The Quarry’s main characters. After all, nothing gets me more invested in a video game’s story than if I can ensure two queer men will kiss at some point.

Supermassive Games’ latest choice-based horror game focuses on nine summer camp counselors at Hackett’s Quarry Summer Camp. Without getting too into the weeds of its plot, some not-chill shit happening here gravely endangers these college kids as they spend one last night on the campground while it’s overrun by hunters and monsters of unknown origin. The heightened sense of peril, coupled with the fact that these kids were expecting to never see each other again after tonight, elevates the stakes for The Quarry’s cast.

As a player, I decided to use my omnipresent player powers to try and find a happy ending for Dylan and Ryan, two characters who, through my choices, could get to know each other more intimately than most of the game’s romantic pairings.

Subverting the Bury Your Gays Trope in The Quarry

We come to meet these characters after their summer as camp counselors comes to a close. Despite pairings like Abigail and Nick and Jacob and Emma having some degree of romance over the summer, we see more of them dealing with their inevitable ends and less getting a sense of what those relationships were like. Ryan and Dylan, meanwhile, weren’t much of anything over the summer. But as the group is stranded at Hackett’s Quarry for one more night, the two end up spending more time with each other than they ever did while they were helping take care of kids at the summer camp.

Ryan — played by Detective Pikachu’s Justice Smith — is more stoic than the rest of the cast, often preferring to listen to a podcast far away from the rest of the group rather than joining in social hour. Dylan — portrayed by Halloween actor Miles Robbins — has established himself as the resident class clown, so the two don’t seem compatible at the outset. Even as I was playing as Dylan and trying to instigate flirtatious banter, I often felt like I was annoying Ryan more than anything. (Though, by that point, most things seemed to annoy Ryan.)

Ultimately, this just seemed like the only way these two could have interacted at all. But I was nonetheless still able to buy into the idea that Dylan was chipping away at Ryan’s cold exterior, eventually confirming his suspicions that Ryan is queer. When I was able to control Ryan again at a campfire where the group played Truth or Dare, choosing to kiss Dylan as part of a dare felt earned.

Subverting the Bury Your Gays Trope in The Quarry

Dylan and Ryan’s relationship truly starts to blossom when the dangerous truth of Hackett’s Quarry begins to rear its head. Dylan admits he’s never really considered the class clown persona he shows everyone else to be the “real” him. During the summer, he worked as the campground’s broadcast operator. From his witty, rapid-fire delivery and his fixation on making playlists, Ryan assumed Dylan wanted to be a radio DJ, but Dylan confides that he’s actually more of a science nerd than anything else. It was one of the few times where I felt like I was seeing characters in The Quarry come to a new understanding of each other rather than just the mysteries of the campground.

The horror genre isn’t really kind to anyone. It’s meant to explore desperation, survival, and terrors both human and not. And sometimes, the natural consequence of putting a queer character in a dangerous setting is that they will be in danger.

But recent mainstream horror movies have been especially unkind to queer men, and lean hard into the Bury Your Gays trope. Recent big-budget horror movies like It: Chapter Two and Halloween Kills have seemingly reveled in putting gay couples in the line of fire of their respective big bads. It: Chapter Two opens with a hate crime against a gay couple in its fictional town of Derry, Maine, before one of them is brutally murdered by Pennywise the Clown. Halloween Kills has two husbands move into Michael Myers’ house, ensuring they will meet a gruesome end at the hands of the iconic villain.

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When queer characters only seem to exist to be made an example of, it’s nice to have an opportunity to subvert that. And while The Quarry’s no masterclass in relationship writing, as I navigated its choice-driven horror, I was happy to see that the entanglement between Ryan and Dylan felt like the most substantial connection at Hackett’s Quarry. As these two bonded, I realized I had to do everything in my power to protect them from the usual fate of gays in mainstream horror movies. Luckily, I managed to ultimately save both through my decisions.

Subverting the Bury Your Gays Trope in The Quarry

But considering the classic tropes in teen horror movies and modern treatment of the gay characters within them, there was a part of me that wondered if I could subvert the fate gays often face. Instead of a Final Girl, the trope in which a (usually white and conventionally attractive) woman survives until the end in a horror movie, could I have a playthrough of The Quarry where Ryan and Dylan were the Final Gays — the sole survivors who end the curse on Hackett’s Quarry together? But in pursuing this ending, I realized it’s difficult to kill off characters in Supermassive’s latest with calculated precision during a first playthrough. There are also some characters that are such fixed points in the story that their deaths seemingly only come near the end.

Though I planned ahead to find some way to keep Ryan and Dylan alive, the two end the game on separate sides of Hackett’s Quarry. The Quarry’s ending feels anticlimactic, as once the big bad monster is dead, all it gives you is a quick rundown of every characters’ status before heading to credits. Ryan and Dylan don’t reunite on-screen, and I’m left to wonder what might have come for them next. At the very least, whatever future I can imagine for them is probably brighter than movies like It Chapter Two or Halloween Kills would have even considered.

Author: Deann Hawkins