Jan 22, 2023
Derrick Similien, Chloe Schwinghammer, Melissa Almanza
What kind of film would be titled The Date? A rom-com. A drama. It’s a fairly inscrutable name. It could be anything.
We open with a phone call in a darkened room, the protagonist, Fred (Derrick Similien), confesses his pre-date nerves to a friend. The absent party jibes as to whether or not he thinks he’ll get lucky on the first date. Fred plays it down. Then a remark about not scaring her off like the last one. Another joke? It lingers…
It’s a horror.
Simultaneously, Janet (Chloe Schwinghammer) is sat in her car outside Fred’s house having a parallel phone call. Her friend probes with a series of semi-jokes questioning as to why she agreed to meet a stranger at their house for a first date. Why did she put herself in such a dangerous position? She seems to avoid the conversation, getting by on the ‘it’ll never happen to me’ mentality.
The call ends and Fred appears out of nowhere knocking on Janet’s car window, eager to begin the date. He introduces himself as “Fred, Fred Perkins”. A warning sign for the audience, Perkins? Like Anthony Perkins? And Janet, as in Janet Leigh? The characters have names amalgamated from the actors’ and characters’ names in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Less than three minutes into the nineteen-minute short and we all know Janet is making a terrible mistake as she enters the house. As she crosses the threshold it begins what appears to be an extended, unbroken shot as Fred prepares the dinner. (More Rope than Psycho). Awkwardness hangs in the air, the silence only punctuated by the clunking sounds made as he lays the table and pours the wine. The lengthy exposure lays the groundwork for an uncomfortable staccato conversation that plays out mercilessly. Although it must be said that some of the dialogue is a little too on the nose.
As the night wears on it becomes increasingly clear to Janet that Fred’s intentions are not genuine. Eventually, after a few too many red flags, she tries to leave but his mood worsens and, well, we all know what happens next.
The Date is a well-crafted Hitchcock-inspired horror short that despite casting its villain as the stereotypical malevolent outsider, hints through its opening parallel phone calls to a culture of male ignorance towards misogynistic violence.