What seems like an innocent night of playing board games at home for a mother and daughter quickly takes a turn for the sinister in Your Date Is Here, a short film from writers/directors Zak White and Todd Spence.
Set almost entirely in the small living room of their dimly-lit apartment, the film begins with the daughter grabbing an old board game called “Your Date Is Here” from a closet shelf. Although she hasn’t played it in years, the mother recognizes the game as one that used to belong to her grandmother when she was younger.
Set up almost exactly like the “Mystery Date” board game originally released by Milton Bradley in 1965, the game requires the player to circle the game board with their game piece, landing on spaces that provide clues to the identity of the “mystery” suitor featured on a game card hidden behind the plastic door located in the center of the game board. These clues are obtained either via “hint” cards or by receiving a pre-recorded message on the game’s included plastic rotary phone. When the player lands on a corner “space”, they may then guess at the identity of their date, hoping not to get the dreaded “Dweeb” character. Doing so means that you’ve lost… or you’ll have a shitty date. One of the two.
The young girl takes the first roll. She moves the required spaces, which lands her on the space for a “phone clue”. She presses the red button that activates the phone’s “ring” sound and picks up the plastic receiver. She, as well as the audience, hears a recording of a man asking her out on a date for ice cream.
The mother excuses herself to the kitchen to secretly splash some liquor into her coffee. Meanwhile, in the living room, the daughter prepares to take her next turn. She lands on another “phone clue” space. Like the last time, she presses the “ringer” and picks up the receiver. However, this time the audience is not privy to the voice on the other end. The girl replies that her mother is in the kitchen and unable to come to the phone. She listens for a few more moments and then places the receiver back on its base.
The mother returns from the kitchen and asks her daughter what the recording said. The girl tells her mother that the caller asked for her, but then seemed to get upset when she was unavailable. The game continues on. However, the following clue cards and phone calls are visibly unnerving the young girl. Eventually, the mother too becomes uncomfortable with the direction the game is taking.
Where the film goes from here may be seen as a little predictable by some viewers, but that doesn’t make the journey there any less enjoyable. Your Date Is Here comes out of the gates with an immediate impression that something ominous and unnatural is waiting just ahead, but takes its time gradually building the tension until its eventual final scare. However, while still effective, the final scare doesn’t carry the same weight as the level of dread that has built up until this moment.
Your Date Is Here recently won the award for Best Horror Film at the Southern Shorts Awards film fest and is nominated for the Creepiest Short Award at The Victoria TX Independent Film Festival. Upcoming screenings include the Portland Horror Film Festival on June 8th – 10th, 2017 in Portland, Oregon, as well as a UK screening at the Triple Six Festival in Manchester on May 27th and 28th. For more info, check out their Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/portlandhorrorfilmfestival and https://www.facebook.com/TripleSixFestival respectively.
At just over 6 minutes long, it has probably taken you longer to read this review than it will to watch the film. If you do get the chance, I recommend checking this one out.