For much of the 20th Century, especially during the heady days of the space race, America believed that the rapidly growing technology and innovation sector would propel the nation and the world to great new heights. There would be jetpacks, flying cars, dehydrated foods, and the like. This rosy world view was often reflected in contemporary television and cinema. But as the Cold War dragged on in the 1970s and 80s and the threat of nuclear war grew ever more real, it seems the popular ethos about the “gifts” to be bestowed upon humanity grew decidedly sour and pessimistic.
This about-face was also reflected in a surge the genre of dystopian cinema with films like Terminator, Blade Runner, and Robocop. Nowadays, as the true costs of our internet addiction and the fear factory of the ever more police state continue to gather strength, cinema is again reflecting our shared anxieties about an uncertain future in shows like Westworld. Writer/director Dana Nachman’s arresting new short Hook Up 2.0 follows this same path with a pitch-black sense of humor and wit that examines (at least one) potential end game for the young couple seeking what seems to be a no strings roll in the hay in the days of Instagram and Snapchat.
At a frat party on an unnamed college campus, the partygoers are up to the expected hijinks — keg stands, smoking weed, and the usual debauchery. An unnamed young woman (YW) follows an unnamed frat boy (FB) up to his room for what looks to be a potentially unsavory evening of drunken, sloppy sex. As things start getting a bit more hot and heavy, YW tries to close the door to the room for a bit more intimacy but, somewhat surprisingly, FB asks to keep the door open to ensure some measure of transparency and “to protect (his) scholarship.” They then exchange dueling “consent forms” (apparently there’s been some serious boundary training at this institution of higher learning).
“…so that she can film, crowdsource and — if FB agrees — then sell their liaison online…”
In a bit of a reversal that would bring a smile to the writer of Jennifer’s Body, YW has some demands of her own. She begins setting up some strategically placed hi-def cameras around the room so that she can film, crowdsource, and — if FB agrees — sell their liaison online (another consent form is proffered to FB, this time on an iPad). YW woman begins disrobing while explaining how their encounter will ultimately be stored “in the cloud” as well as some perfunctory additional legal speak. FB, bewildered perhaps by this turn of the tables and the sight of her cleavage, consents to this new world order. Everything in place to her specifications, YW is now ready to commence with the sex. However, just when as the heat starts getting dialed up, YW gets an alert on her iPad that — based on a Yelp-like past partner score — FB is a bit of a dud. YW bails and FB is left to read his “stats,” which are, like, “really rough.” And scene.
Though only a few minutes in duration, Hook Up 2.0 is genuinely funny and surprising. It has all the hallmarks of a slightly less dark, though pithy, Black Mirror episode. Writer/director Nachman definitely has her finger on the pulse of dating in the modern age and pushes it — in a totally plausible manner — just down the road a bit. The actors are on-point, and the film looks and sounds great. It’ll be interesting to see what Nachman does next in her career. One can only hope she uses her filmmaking powers for good and not evil or all us singletons are in for it.
Hook Up 2.0 (2019) Written and Directed by Dana Nachman. Starring Veronica Dunne, Billy Meade
7 out of 10 stars