Kevin Dillon heads a mostly D-, E- and F-list cast in this schlocky but not entirely unwatchable thriller; he plays Orlando Friar, a one-time hacker who’s gone straight and works for a computer helpline. One sunny day in southern California, Orlando makes excuses as to why he can’t stay at home and attend the birthday party of his teenage daughter Zoey (Anna Harr), citing work demands. His wife Kim (Lydia Hull) is so fed up with his perpetual absence, she hands him divorce papers. But off to work he goes nevertheless, where he is soon punished for his lack of paternal commitment when he discovers that an unseen bomb-maker, at first just a voice on the phone, has set a trap for him at work. Unless Orlando helps the bomber with some hacking tasks, a bomb planted under Orlando’s chair will explode if he gets up or even wheels beyond a new rug by his desk.
The office equipment theme extends in budget-friendly ways throughout the film which is mostly set in just one location, and eventually encompasses deadly traps in an elevator and a server room a few floors down. I was expecting the stationary cupboard or breakroom microwave to yield a deadly surprise, but alas no. Still, the script and direction by prolific low-budget film-maker James Cullen Bressack do spring a few mild surprises and minor twists to spice things up. That doesn’t quite make up for the tackiness elsewhere – such as the cheesy animation near the climax that illustrates bits and bytes going down internet wires to trigger explosive outcomes – or the simpering, thinly written roles for poor Zoey and Kim who spend much of the film cowering and looking worried.
Fans of 1990s film and TV will enjoy the presence of Shannen Doherty as the police chief and, to a lesser extent, Mel Gibson as a grizzled bomb squad cop whose partner Jackson (Eddie Steeples) is all too prone to making predictions about what happens next based on knowledge of cop-movie conventions. The performer giving the most energetic performance, character actor Michael Welch who some viewers may dimly recall from the Twilight franchise, is disappointingly taken off camera too early after incarnating the sort of douchebag work-buddy everybody loathes.
Hot Seat is available on 5 August on digital platforms.