A 911 operator named Jordan (Halle Berry) tries to save a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) that got kidnapped by a Fruit of the Loon.
I didn’t really want to go see THE CALL
, the trailers didn’t do much for me and I missed the first two periods of the hockey game because of it. But I went, with my sole hope that it may be decent being that Brad Anderson (Session 9
, The Machinist
) was behind the lens. To my surprise it wasn’t half bad!
THE CALL is the kind of thriller my mom would lap up. Outside of giving us some insight into the inner workings of a 911 operator, there wasn’t much new here. Silence of the Lambs popped to mind a couple of times that’s for sure! But often enough, it’s not how you dress up the stripper, it’s how she gets down that matters and in that department, THE CALL greased that pole right! The first hour of the film was pretty damn intense. The stakes were high, I cared about the kidnapped gal’s fate (brilliantly played by Abigail Breslin), was engaged by her many attempts to escape her captor and the serial killer at work here showed me enough acts of vicious violence for me to know that he wasn’t playing. Anderson’s novel visual style also lent a hand in upping the toenail-biting nature of this beast. He went buck nuts with the extreme close ups, which made the happenings more intrusive while giving them a somewhat eerie feel. Moreover, I so grooved to the “freeze frame” ploy he would use now and again to punctuate the action; pretty damn stimulating and more importantly effective.
On the acting front, Halle Berry carried the picture admirably. I’ve never been a big fan to be honest, but here she reminded me that YES she does have chops with the right role and in the right film. Berry gunned out a tough yet vulnerable, emotionally stirring and passionate performance. Props girl! As for Michael Eklund… well, when I saw his name in the opening credits, I remembered his chilling show in The Divide
and immediately thought: “I hope he’s playing the killer, he’d be perfect for it”
! And yes his role was the nut-ball and yes he f*cking aced it and then some. Eklund’s showcase was one bathed in minutia (Hey I learned a new word - woo-hoo!), his body language, his clattering of the teeth and his disturbed stare; SOLD! Definitely one of the most frightening psychos I’ve see in a while (if I don’t count that last dunce I dated… brrr). Tag to that a breath-neck pace that made sure I was never bored, a handful of tension charged bits that had me wiggling in my seat like a guy that ate too much chilli, some cringe inducing moments of nastiness and a semi trippy electronic score by John Debney that upped the unsettling feel of the ride, and you get a thriller with bite!
On the bummer side, Morris Chestnut’s character showed promise but was abandoned two thirds in. So apart from giving Berry’s Jordan a boyfriend, he had no purpose here. What a waste! Too bad, I dig the dude! And was it me or was the serial killer’s motive a little hard to swallow? You got to be f*cking bonkers to go that way. Like mucho f*cking bonkers! It made no sense to me that nobody in his surroundings (you'll see) noticed how OFF HIS ROCKER he was! In addition, as much as the first hour killed it, the last block asked me to suspend disbelief a little too much in the name of venturing in thriller 101 clichéd conclusion territory. Was it suspenseful? Yes! Did I fully buy it? No. Felt like a cap-off that a suit who watched too many thrillers came up with. I wasn’t crazy about the final frames either. I saw what they were going for, but they didn’t carry the impact they needed. The flick ended on a meh note as opposed to the OWNED they were going for.
On the whole though, you can do much worse than THE CALL, I wouldn’t pay money to see it on the big screen, but it would make for a solid rental for you and your better half or for you and a jar of Vaseline. So you gonna take this call or what?
We get some nasty stabbings, some scalpel fun and blood here and there. Not overly graphic, but it was brutal as hell when the shit hit the shit.
Does Abigail Breslin (who is 17 years old) in a bra count? A little too Jail Bait for my liking...
The first hour of THE CALL was tight, tight and tight! I was rooting for the heroes, I feared the bad guy and Anderson's brash visual style tagged with the out there soundtrack gave the whole some double-down oomph! On her end, Halle Berry owned this bitch! I can’t remember the last time she was this good (I’ve never seen Monster’s Ball BTW). Yeah it was derivative of countless other serial killers movies that came before it, Morris Chestnut was wasted, the last act was a tad ridiculous while the final frames didn’t carry the weight they thought they did, but hey it still hit the spot. Worth a watch! Off to call my Mom to recommend it to her, she’s gonna love this shit!
Richard D'Ovidio who also penned Thir13en Ghosts (2001) and Exit Wounds (2001) wrote this one.
It was initially titled The Hive (the name they give to the 911 call center)
Joel Schumacher was at first attached to direct.