The Call, 2013.
Directed by Brad Anderson.
Starring Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Michael Eklund, Morris Chestnut, Michael Imperioli and David Otunga.
When a veteran 911 operator takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl who has just been abducted, she realizes that she must confront a killer from her past in order to save the girl’s life.
The Call is the definition of a high concept movie but the concept seemingly never had a second half and the film suffers greatly for it. This is a 45 minute idea, stretched over twice that length with a final act which appears to be made up on the spot as the camera rolled, and has the single worst conclusion of any film this year.
This is a shame because the first half of director Brad Anderson’s film is a satisfying low-key thriller with the concept of a 911 Emergency operator (Halle Berry) as the only help for a teenage girl, kidnapped and held hostage in the trunk of a car, is something we’ve not seen before. Two locations, one stationary and the other constantly moving; two women, one an experienced emergency call operator with experience of a similar scenario, the other an innocent victim; the stakes are high because no one can pinpoint the girl’s location and the film shows us all the tricks the operators can do to calm the caller and help the police in their search. So far, so good and Anderson moves the film with lightning pace which moves quickly enough to help heal any obvious plot holes, of which there were many.
The problem with the film is, as mentioned above, that once the concept of phone call being the only connection between life and death has worn out, the film still has another 45 minutes to fill and this second half gets progressively worse until it becomes a full-on disaster. The film shifts gears into nasty, dark horror territory and, entirely without reason becomes a third-rate The Silence of the Lambs knock off with all plot holes and cheap scare tactics highlighting the film’s frailties (which is something you don’t expect from the director of The Machinist and Session 9) to the point where it becomes a chore to continue the film. Why and how the operator becomes a detective and action hero is completely ludicrous and is not warranted or earned in respect of the decent first half set up and as the final acts plods on, the film even touches on ‘torture porn’ territory and loses all credibility.
The Call ends up being an experience forgettable to the point of obsolescence, which is something the film’s interesting concept did not deserve.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★
Rohan Morbey – follow me on Twitter.