Crisis Hotline (2020)

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A man’s new job goes from zero to one hundred in this thrilling film from writer-director Mark Schwab.

Simon has been working his new job for a LGBT crisis hotline for just about a week. He’s not too thrilled because he gets calls that are not really crises but more complaints about certain things. However, when he receives a call from a man named Danny, Simon’s humdrum job is about to get revved up. Danny informs Simon that he plans to commit suicide but not before he goes after three people. Danny tells his story about why these particular three are going to be his intended targets.

Danny moved from Nebraska to the world of Silicon Valley. An openly gay man, he meets Kyle and the two start a loving relationship. Six weeks in, Kyle decides to introduce Danny to his bosses, gay couple Lance and Christian. At first, Lance and Christian are discreet to talk about their jobs. However, when Danny finds himself in a series of uncomfortable situations with Kyle and the couple, Kyle finally reveals the truth about Lance and Christian’s work. When Danny finds himself involved in a way he never imagined, he decides enough is enough and opts to seek revenge, but not before telling Simon at the crisis hotline.

Mark Schwab is quite an interesting filmmaker. Originally titled Shadows in Mind, he made the film with using dating apps in mind and the risk factors that can emerge from the use of said apps. The film may start out as a man whose humdrum job at a crisis hotline whose job soon ramps up when the character of Danny calls him. However, as we learn more about Danny through a juxtaposition of present day and flashbacks, the film brings Schwab’s statement of the risk factors of dating apps to life as we see Danny, someone who comes to a world he never imagined, go through levels of non-comfort to finding himself not able to withstand the mental anguish he endures anymore.

Corey Jackson is great as Simon, the bridge between Danny and his eventual plan of revenge. For the first ten minutes we see Simon go through levels of anger due to his feelings of humdrum on the job. Christian Gabriel shines as Danny, whose voice we hear in the scenes involving Simon and it is his story in the flashbacks of the events that lead to the scenes in the crisis hotline. Danny’s story is quite intriguing, especially when it comes to his relationship with Kyle, who is excellently played with mixed emotions by Pano Tsaklas. Kyle finds himself happy with Danny, but at the same time increasingly emotional and with feelings of regret when it comes to introducing him to his employers.

If the film has a real major villain, it is August Browning’s Lance, as from the moment we meet him on screen, you can smell the sleaziness. Christopher Fung’s Christian, Lance’s husband, is seen as a bad guy as well but he doesn’t ooze the sliminess like Lance. Lance, along with Michael Champlin’s Forrest are the masterminds behind the events that will eventually bring Danny to his breaking point. The scene involving the straw that broke the camel’s back is quite shocking and it also goes to show the level of emotion not just for Danny, but for Kyle, who found himself forced into the situation. As if that’s not crazy enough, wait until you see the final moments of the film. They are a bit jaw-dropping.

Crisis Hotline is very emotional, thrilling, and shocking, driven by excellent performances with a jaw-dropping finale.

WFG RATING: A-

High Octane Pictures presents a Diamond in the Rough Films production. Director: Mark Schwab. Producer: Mark Schwab. Writer: Mark Schwab. Cinematography: Dante Yore. Editing: Mark Balunis and Mark Schwab.

Cast: Christian Gabriel, Pano Tsaklas, Corey Jackson, Mike Mizwicki, August Browning, Christopher Fung, Michael Champlin.

 

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