Dogshit’s review published on Letterboxd:
A gritty and ruthless film that verges on the satirical, Friedkin's absolutely incredible slasher horror both plays with the expectations of 1980s conservative america's perception of the inner-city gay scene while also being a damning indictement of law-enforcement and its relationship to marginilized communities. The real predators in this film are the cops who either prey on gay and transexual men physically or whose relationship to community is not one of genuine protection, rather in service to the power structures that want everything to appear neat and comfortable.
We see this satirical note and paranoia examined most clearly when our protagonist "Steve Burns" begins to worry his assignment to infiltrate the underground gay scene is "changing him". A supposedly straight- square cop suddenly surrcombing to the irresistable temptations of homosexuality? This is a suburban nightmare- the very literalized fear of patriarch and matriarch of very American Nuclear family. This of course is a absolutely ridiculous dramatic throughline but that is what "Cruising" is all about- a mocking horror film that plays with America's deep seated paranoia.
Here i suppose there are a number of reads. Is Burns really the straight cop we believed him to be? Is he questioning long-dormaint parts of his sexuality- the very palpable fear of straight America ("are we all gay"?) is at work here but ultimately these questions don't matter when taken with the film's absolutely searing final moments- something that shouldn't work in the slightest but Friedkin pulls off masterfully.
It is important to note that this film narrowly prempts the AIDs crisis making this film eeriely prophetic in how it examines the perception of gay america and the indifference of the institutions who are granted the responsibility to protect its citizens.
I paired this film with "Cobra" which rocked.