The poster art for the gay film Crisis Hotline is a bit deceiving. Don’t expect to see any blood. Although I’m adding it to the homo horror movies page, this is more psychological thriller than horror movie, and any “bad stuff” that happens is implied. And as with many low budget gay thrillers, there’s barely anything besides talk and some erotic moments. Not even sex or nudity get much screen time, which some might find a refreshing change of pace for a gay film…except for the fact that the whole premise is built specifically around sexual situations in this case.
This type of film structure is just not really my thing, and it’s a frustrating issue that plagues so many gay thrillers. The stories might be better presented as novels, because they’d work more effectively that way (hell, the boys and bears in my gay horror novels never shut up). Dialogue alone–especially delivered over a phone–isn’t enough to create suspense on celluloid (case in point…the agonizing Pontypool), instead doing the opposite…weighing things down when thrillers need to be fast-paced to truly keep you on the edge of your seat.
Granted, I did want to know where things were heading, because as Crisis Hotline unfolds, it kind of takes the form of a rape/revenge flick…with both being suggested rather than seen. There’s nothing exploitative to be found here, and as a result, the film has a disappointingly anticlimactic denouement.
The plot concerns workers at an LGBTQ hotline getting a call from a young, suicidal man. He sounds creepy enough when things start, but that wears off quickly.
The film is told mostly as a flashback as he relates what led to him making the call…he moves into the city, gets a job and apartment, and through his new boyfriend, becomes immersed in a gay, white, upper class circle with an ominous edge.
The film definitely hits all the hot buttons of gay life: monogamy, ageism, predatory paranoia, eroticism, pornography, safe sex practices, drugs, and the dangers of metropolitan life. That’s kind of the problem—cliché and stereotypical plot points that have been covered ad nauseam in gay narratives (I was reminded of the film Seeing Heaven). It is perhaps intriguing to newly out viewers, but seasoned gay horror and thriller fans really need stories that aren’t obsessed with tired gay issues.
For instance, Crisis Hotline flirts with the dark web at the last minute when, quite frankly, what would have been more original is to have an entire gay thriller focused on the gay horrors that might be found on the dark web, which naturally would have required a bigger budget. I guess that will just have to be someone else’s movie.