Written and Directed by: Todd Spence & Zak White
Starring: Rebecca Flinn and Dani Tiernan
Reviewed by: Brett Gallman (@brettgallman)
"We're going to have lots of fun..."
Perhaps best described as a bite-sized Kevin Tenney riff, “Your Date is Here” takes a familiar but clever hook—“what if your board game was haunted?”—and sets up a fun little joke with a killer punchline. When a young girl (Dani Tiernan) and her mother (Rebecca Flinn) dig out an old Mystery Date game it sets the stage for what should be an innocuous evening of fun, games, and pizza. However, the proceedings grow ominous when the girl receives a mysterious call and some of the board pieces deliver cryptically sinister messages.
In the space of 6 minutes, directors Todd Spence and Zak White put the audience on edge, waiting for the obvious shoe to drop. This board game is most definitely sending out bad vibes, but just how will they manifest? Like any good showmen, the directors tease the audience with various hints—those phone calls grow more malicious, and those game pieces become more disturbing, effectively building the tension up to a terrific climax. “Your Date is Here” feels like a joke in the best way possible, as it’s meticulously structured like one: there’s a set-up, a bit of misdirection, and, then, boom, a wicked punchline delivered in the form of a great visual gag.
While the film’s technical acumen is noteworthy—the performances are solid, the editing creates a perfect pace leading to the climax, and it’s well-shot—what really shines is the devious sense of fun guiding “Your Date is Here.” Spence and White have crafted the sort of tale you’d expect to hear around a campfire, the type that climaxes with the storyteller devising some way to get their audience to leap out of their seats. “Your Date is Here” is very much out of that “gotcha” tradition, and I must confess it got me. If I’m being honest, it got its hooks into me from the opening shot, which reveals the game—which is sitting right next to a copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark—was manufactured in Castle Rock.
Clearly, Spence and White are bonafide horror heads, and their enthusiasm is infectious: I could see “Your Date is Here” killing it with a packed house at a festival, as it sets the perfect tone for a raucous, party atmosphere.
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