Runtime: 9 minutes
Written/Directed: Laura Jean Hocking
Actors: Shannon Walton
By Dominic Corr
At the end of all things, as the planet burns and is battered by the winds of climate chaos – one thing will persist, one eternal message: ‘hot singles in your area.’
It’s a humorous and all too crushing reality. That in a not-too-distant future where temperatures skyrocket and the world begins collapsing in on itself, there remains this infectious spamming of our communications. There’s still profit to be made, even at the end of days.
Writer, editor, and director Laura Jean Hocking places this intrusive day-to-day irritation at the centre of “Hot Singles,” a dramatic and paranoid short which finds Daisy, a local weatherwoman, trapped in the basement of a flower shop; unable to leave due to the torrential winds outside the building. With no phone signal, and no method of escape things look bleak. But there is one message which gets through, so, time to meet a hot single in the area, and hope they can help.
It’s a stroke of brilliance in writing, as Daisy reluctantly accepts the invitation to meet a stranger, hoping that the provided credit card details get her in touch with someone who can provide assistance. Snippets of the catastrophe outside are communicated visually with video design melding into the backdrop of Daisy’s prison within the basement, Jeff Pope’s video design holding focus on a sole wall as projections of her phone screen flicker to provide narrative shortcuts for audiences.
Marc Symonds and Kate Arnold’s intrusive sound design sets the short apart from others of a similar ilk, disruptive and uncomfortable skittering of cockroaches and blaring signals as Daisy explores the flower store basement put the audience in a state of unease, forming an empathy for the trapped weatherwoman. It only steps back to allow for the minimal dialogue, otherwise the pushing feature of the short.
Really, “Hot Singles” falters where the substitution of dread and sound design make way for performance – and while Shannon Walton does present an engaging character, Jean Hocking’s direction aims more for the comedic route than to further the existential dread of it all. Worse, is that the emotions which Walton is producing are lost in the peculiar notion to introduce a myriad of shaky-cam shots, serving little to nothing in terms of further of the short’s disorientating atmosphere, instead taking viewers completely out of the already established fears and location.