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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Crisis Hotline **

Starring: Corey Jackson, Christian Gabriel, Pano Tsaklas, Christopher Fung, August Browning

Director: Mark Schwab

Country: USA

A new volunteer at a LGBT Crisis Hotline (Jackson) is surprised to receive a call from a distraught young man, on the verge of killing himself and three others. Told in flashback, we learn that Danny (Gabriel) has been introduced to a tech power-couple (Fung & Browning) through his dreamy new boyfriend Kyle (Tsaklas), but the trio’s friendship is founded on sex, voyeurism and manipulation. Kyle is suave, wealthy and sophisticated, but his success is entirely a product of the couple’s making, which they hold over him to exert control. And as Danny begins to understand the nature of their relationship, he realises he has been thrown into the deep end too.

With an unusual narrative structure, if not told through flashback this would have been a relatively model decline-and-fall story, but in deciding to tell it through the eyes of the hotline-operator, we become much more embroiled in his attempts to track the caller as he speaks to Danny live. In fact, this is by far the film’s biggest strength and the film would definitely have been better if the story was weighted more toward the present than the past.

Corey Jackson and August Browning deliver stand-out performances and at times, the tension mounts well. A sparse use of music and bold lingering silences adds to this, but the plot does plod forward at a somewhat steady – and laboured – pace leading to a climax that doesn’t quite deliver. There’s a twist in its final scenes, but without a tying of its loose ends you’re left with an uneven conclusion to an otherwise uncomplicated film.



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