CRISIS HOTLINE ** USA 2019 Dir: Mark Schwab. 92 mins
Simon (Corey Jackson) is already feeling bored and frustrated by his new job at the LGBTQ crisis hotline. Dealing with non-crisis calls that make his long nights feel even longer, he’s surprised when he get a call from a young computer engineer named Danny (Christian Gabriel). Danny tells him he’s going to take one OxyContin at a time, until he overdoses—but not before he shares why.
What follows is a story of young love gone very wrong; Danny meets the man of his dreams, Kyle (Pano Tsaklas), online, and they fall quickly in love. Experiencing all of the important first dates (first scary movie, first hike, first first time), they hit it off, and Kyle invites Danny to meet his enigmatic friends/bosses/benefactors Lance (August Browning) and Christian (Christopher Fung)—who are curiously well off (for the Bay Area), and have somehow made Kyle pretty rich, too.
CRISIS HOTLINE quickly becomes a series of unsettling interactions between naïve Danny and predatory Lance, Christian, and their even more creepy friend Forrest. It seems obvious from the get-go what’s going to happen, because the story of the green boy from the Midwest trying to make it in the big city usually doesn’t have a happy ending.
A well-paced thriller, CRISIS HOTLINE’s suspense is often broken by the lacklustre acting, but it manages to make a startling impact that sticks.
Review by Julia Lynch