Hot (2016) – Jim Morazzini


Hot is a very dark and brutal comedy set in a post apocalyptic Los Angeles. A plague has ravaged the world leaving few unscathed and most of the population “noncons”, comatose and dying slow deaths where hey fell. Benny and Jones are among the lucky ones, not only have they avoided becoming victims, but they’re holed up in a luxury penthouse isolated from the harsh realities outside. Jones’s  fiance Beth however wasn’t as lucky, however he refuses to either abandon her or have her put killed, he spends most of his time caring for her, something that grates on the increasingly lonely Benny. When Benny makes a deal with militia member Horn to bring him his own girlfriend in a coma, an already fraying situation becomes worse. When talk of an escape via yacht and even rumors of an antidote to the plague surface things become downright ugly.

An adaptation of the play of the same name by Daniel Keleher who co-wrote the script with director Victor Warren, Hot is a look at friendship, love, lust, loneliness and self deception through a looking glass of global tragedy, or at least a small piece of that tragedy. It tackles some serious topics but in a morbidly humorous way. It’s tone reminded me of classic British films such as Peter Medak’s The Ruling Class or Richard Lester’s The Bed Sitting Room mixed with the less mannered US styling of Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude.

At it’s core is the question of what is a relationship and what is abuse. Is it any different that Jones still has sex with his comatose fiance because they had a relationship before she became a noncon than Benny having it with his recently acquired “girlfriend”? Does it make one or both of them a rapist? And what does it say about Horn, being so willing to get a woman for Benny? Does it matter that Benny is saving her from certain death? And can he really love or care for someone who’s been in a coma the entire time he’s “known” them? If not is he justifying his actions or does he really believe what he says, and does it matter?

A three character play, five if you count the comatose women, Hot pulls no punches as the relationships between them degenerate from friendship into open hostility. It may be a comedy but it’s humor is of the dark and grim kind, bringing a grin more than a laugh. But that humor is needed to avoid letting the subject matter become to grim. And to their credit, Keleher and Warren never let the subject matter become either overly depressing or exploitative. And lets face it, a plot that revolves around sex with unconscious women has a serious risk of going well into bad taste territory. To it’s credit, while never being very PC, HOT avoids falling into that trap.  It stays on point and forces the viewer to confront the issue and, by implication their attitude to relationships in general. It’s not an accident that all three characters are male…

Hot is a film that will both amuse and challenge you. It’s a darkly comic gem with a lot of serious ideas running through it and despite the fact you’ll grin a lot during the film, you’ll be emotionally drained by the end.