Rating: 4 out of 5.

The clock is ticking when a distressed young man calls an LGBT suicide hotline – but there is more to his story in the suspense-filled drama Crisis Hotline.

It’s a film cleverly written and directed by Mark Schwab. The story begins where it ends and tells the caller’s story and why he has contacted the hotline on that particular night.

Simon (a very good Corey Jackson) is in his first-week volunteering at the hotline office and not much has happened. But one night a young caller, sounding very distressed, threatens to kill himself. So Simon gets the caller to tell his story and the events that have led up to this very disturbing call.

Danny the caller (Christian Gabriel), who is from the Midwest, is new to the big city, trying to find his feet, with a dull job and a very small apartment. Soon enough he meets sexy, hot and fun Kyle (Pano Tsaklas), who on the surface appears to have it all: a great apartment, a sexy smile and hot body, and a great job managing websites for a gay couple who have a voracious appetite for sex and all things dark.

Soon enough Kyle introduces Danny to his bosses Curtis and Lance (Mike Mizwicki and August Browning). Danny then finds out more about Kyle’s line of work and what he really needs to do to keep his job and apartment. But Danny eventually gets drawn, unwittingly, into their dark games, with Kyle setting him up, which ultimately leads to the hotline call. And throughout the call, the suspense builds and builds and the story gets darker and darker until the shattering, and totally unexpected, finale.

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Schwab, who also produced, has a keen eye for suspense and drama and gets great mileage from his cast. While Gabriel doesn’t quite live up to his role and seems to be sleepwalking through the film, Tsaklas owns the movie with his looks, charm, and relative ease in his complicated role as an on-the-surface good and loyal boyfriend but with a dark and dangerous streak. Mizwicki and Browning are okay, but Jackson brings much to the film as it’s his pivotal role that holds the film together.

He’s actually fantastic.

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Crisis Hotline throws social media, sex, love, lust, voyeurism and the dark web into one big mixing bowl to make an eerie, clever, dark, very sexy and fun film.

Now available in the UK through Dekkoo.com

About the author: Tim Baros
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.