Crisis Hotline Review

Crisis Hotline is an LGBT thriller that tells the story of a suicidal man on the brink of murdering three other people. It’s up to hotline operator Simon to help reason with him before it’s too late.

Story

The film begins with Simon complaining to his coworker how much he’s not looking forward to his night on the phones. Oddly enough, his issue is that most of the people who call aren’t facing an actual crisis, in his eyes. Instead, he feels like they’re just calling to complain. Essentially, he’s complaining about other people complaining.

Wait, what?

His first call of the night snaps him out of his mundane life when the man claims he’s planning to overdose. Things take a dangerous turn when the caller, Danny, claims he is planning to murder his boyfriend as well as three other people. This catches Simon’s attention and makes him worried for both Danny and the people he wants to hurt. He brings the situation to Curtis, a veteran operator of the organization. Curtis remains unconvinced that Danny is actually going to hurt himself or others and encourages Simon to keep talking to and gather more information from him.

Warning: The next section will contain spoilers. Please do not click on the spoiler tags if you do not wish to have it spoiled for you.

Spoiler

Dark and dirty

Danny goes on to explain how things got to the point they’re at. He states that he moved to the city for a better life, but became trapped in a dead-end job that doesn’t make him nearly enough money. Suffering from loneliness, it joins a dating app to meet local men and it’s there that he meets Kyle. The two start, what he believes, to be a wonderful relationship until Kyle finally introduces Danny to his bosses, Lance and Christian.

It turns out that the two of them run a porn website and Kyle is in charge of the security aspect of the website. At a party hosted by Lance and Christian, the two of them begin to do meth in front of Danny and Kyle. It comes to light that Kyle enjoys watching them have sex, and convinces Danny to have sex with him while they watch them together. Danny obliges and admits that he enjoyed himself, however, he is disturbed knowing drugs are involved. Kyle assures him he no longer does the drug part and just enjoys watching the two of them have sex.

Tensions rising

At another party, Danny meets Forrest, a former business partner of Lance and Christian who helped them start their business. He offers Danny the opportunity to star in porn for the company, and Danny discusses it with Kyle. Kyle explains that it is his decision, much to Danny’s dismay. He explains to Simon that Kyle failed the test and that he wanted him to discourage him from being in porn.

Danny eventually tries to convince Kyle to quit his job, but Kyle explains that Lance and Christian aren’t just his employers. He doesn’t get a salary from them and instead, they pay for everything he wants in exchange for their services. Despite this, Danny convinces him to leave and Kyle seemingly agrees. However, after lacing his wine with a roofie, Kyle notifies Lance that he’s “good to go.” Lance, Christian, and Forrest show up with filming equipment. They proceed to get high and film themselves rape a passed out Danny. However, Kyle is overcome with guilt and has difficulty allowing himself to participate.

A final twist

Danny sends Simon a file containing the link to a “dark web” site tied to Lance’s porn site. From their response, it turns out there is a multitude of illegal porn videos listed. Danny tells them that he hears the police and that he won’t resist before a gunshot is heard.

Simon and Curtis are questioned about the events, and they’re told that the person they were talking to the entire time was actually Kyle. He had sent them all the dirty secrets needed to put Lance, Christian, and Forrest behind bars. The officer also tells them that Danny was found upstairs, and had hung himself earlier in the day. Simon asks Curtis if they had really done all they could, and Curtis gives him a vague answer in response. Basically saying that they did more than most others would have done.

My issue with the story was the pacing. It dragged on at an incredibly slow pace and, in the end, it felt unnecessary. Everything is summed up in the final ten minutes of the film, and someone could have watched only that and still gotten what happened. Throughout the film, Danny kept telling Simon to remember “context.” He claims that’s why he needed to tell the entire story to him before carrying out his plan but, to me, it served as an excuse to make the film longer. The twist at the end was nice, but it also raised more questions than answers. It felt like a lazy way to shock audiences, and I don’t feel like it paid off the way the writer had intended.

Characters

SimonDannyKyleLanceChristianCurtisForrest

A crisis hotline operator for his local LGBT community center. He is the one who gets the fateful call from Danny and tries to talk him out of ending his life.

A young gay man who is new to the city. He is determined to end his life after things with his boyfriend, Kyle, go south and he calls the crisis hotline to tell his story.

A young gay man who is in a relationship with Danny. We’re not told right away what he did to cause Danny so much pain, but he is the focal point of the story.

Kyle’s boss and Christian’s husband. It turns out he runs a porn website along with Christian. The two of them are incredibly wealthy and addicted to meth.

Lance’s husband and Kyle’s other boss. He seems to allow Lance to be the mastermind while he is a willing participant in their darker activities.

Simon’s boss and fellow crisis hotline operator. He’s skeptical of Danny’s story and continuously tries to keep Simon’s perspective grounded.

A business partner of Lance and Christian. He helped the two of them start their business, but he is now one of their biggest clients.

Another issue I had with the film was that the characters were incredibly bland. I didn’t feel a deep connection or identify with any of them. Danny’s voice on the phone was monotone the entire film, and it didn’t get much better in the flashbacks. The acting quality was laughably poor and completely took me out of the film. Danny and Forrest both sounded like they were trying to impersonate cheesy comic book villains which was a bizarre choice for a thriller.

Cinematography

 

The overall cinematography was okay. The visuals weren’t impressive, but they also weren’t terrible. You could tell that there was some decent production value put into it as even in the darker scenes you could still see what was going on. However, the scenes just didn’t flow that well together. The only reason you knew we were witnessing flashbacks was that when we saw Danny we knew it wasn’t the present.

Soundtrack

The music was another aspect of the film that didn’t really stand out at all. There were some slight tension moment songs, but outside of that nothing is really memorable. The film was oddly void of atmospheric sounds that made it seem like it was

Genre

The film is listed as a thriller, but it played out more like a drama. You can tell the filmmakers really wanted the audience to be on the edge of their seat, but I don’t feel like they accomplished that. Danny tries to come off as some mysterious criminal mastermind, but the actor isn’t able to convincingly pull it off. Curtis doesn’t believe him up until the end, and I don’t blame him. Danny sounds like someone trying to be edgy and act threatening. However, I feel like had they made it into more of a drama it would have worked out better. For a thriller, it just wasn’t all that thrilling.

Final Thoughts

Danny is an annoyingly unlikeable character. Throughout the whole film, he just complains about his life when we don’t see much for him to complain about. This is ironic because he’s supposed to be unlike the rest of Simon’s calls but, up until the end, he is exactly one of the people Simon complains about in the beginning. Danny is overly judgemental of Lance and Christian being porn producers yet, in the beginning, we see him watching porn himself. He complains about having to work his butt off for nothing then judges Kyle for not wanting to leave his job. Up until the final moments of the film we have no reason to hate Lance or Christian. The “twist” at the end just seems forced in there to make things more dramatic, but it just feels rushed and seemingly comes out of nowhere.

LGBT cinema is becoming more prominent and mainstream. It’s important for filmmakers to tell these stories involving members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans community. However, we’ve come to a point where we are seeing an oversaturation of LGBT films. Just like movies that focus on straight characters, not all LGBT films are a hit. Crisis Hotline is, unfortunately, one of those films. Still, it’s great to see LGBT stories being told even if they don’t appeal to everyone.

Good

  • Decent production value
  • Interesting concept

Bad

  • Mediocre plot
  • Weak acting
5.4

Average

Story - 5
Characters - 5
Cinematography - 7
Soundtrack - 5
Thriller - 5
A writer, video game enthusiast, Halloween nerd, and an author of stories.
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