One thing I’m really excited about with horror lately is the inclusiveness. I always saw it at the conventions and now there’s a want for diversity in films. Jordan Peele has left his mark rather quickly with Get Out and Us, along with The Twilight Zone reboot on TV. Recently, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer played the lead in MA, an unapologetic thriller where she allows herself to be the villain.

Gay characters are common now on TV, including shows like American Horror Story and Slasher, but I’m still waiting for it to hit a mainstream wide release. Yes, there’s Stranger by the Lake and Knife + Heart, but these aren’t movies that hit your local theater chain. Also, it’s hard to come by one that doesn’t rely on stereotypes that make me cringe.

CRISIS HOTLINE is a bit of a blend. It’s guilty of having the majority of the cast play as “bitchy gays” that memes are made of. Luckily our lead is more of the shy type who feels uncomfortable around these others.

Those familiar with Psycho 4 will instantly recognize the familiar narrative of Simon (played by Corey Jackson). Working at a crisis hotline for the LGBTQ community, he feels a bit new to the job but eventually gets the hang of how to control the calls. He’s in for an interesting night when he gets a call from Danny (played by Christian Gabriel), a soft-spoken man who seems sweet, but wants to tell Simon his story where he intends to end with murder.

What has Simon uncovered in CRISIS HOTLINE
Corey Jackson and Mike Mizwicki in CRISIS HOTLINE

What makes his story unique is how he’s a bit introverted, but gets involved with Kyle, a more socially involved member of the gay community. Kyle introduces Danny to his friends, a gay couple who speak like they’re dead on the inside and carry a lifestyle and careers that are questionable in Danny’s eyes.

Danny begins to open up a bit more, but starts to get drawn into their circle and begins to think things over the more he learns about his new friends. Not only that, their secrets turn out to be far more sinister than initially suspected. While the end result is quite disturbing, don’t be fooled by the artwork which seems to promise some kind of slasher flick involving phone calls. This is definitely more of a drama, with some mystery elements to it, just don’t expect a body count or violence.

Not sure why, but there’s a softness to everyone’s voice as if they are trying to seduce the audience. There’s not much to praise in CRISIS HOTLINE, but one can’t really hate it either. It has an intriguing story, but the execution feels too vanilla. Plus, the direction everything goes makes the subject matter much darker than it actually feels like. In other words, the revelations will make one simply shrug. There’s no emotional attachment and no one to root for, so nothing feels at stake. The sad thing is that CRISIS HOTLINE sticks to cliched characters that are easy to hate so it almost feels like everyone gets what they deserved. Even the ending, which is supposed to strike a nerve I’m guessing, feels tame and one can go on with their day probably not remembering much from this one.

Jovy Skol
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