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Review: The Call

The Call
Mar. 14, 2013by:
6 10

PLOT: Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is a veteran 911 dispatch operator, reeling from an incident where she was unable to save a girl from the clutches of a serial killer. Six months later, Jordan gets a call from Casey (Abigail Breslin) whose been abducted by the same killer. With time running out, and no trace on her cell phone- Jordan frantically tries to help Casey save herself from becoming another victim.

REVIEW: THE CALL (or as it was originally titled, THE HIVE- the nickname of Jordan's dispatch center) is 2/3rds of a slam bang thriller. For the first hour of THE CALL's ninety minutes, I was thoroughly on the edge of my seat- before being let down by an all-too predictable and corny ending.

Still- 2/3rds of a good movie is better than 1/3rd or nothing, and there's an awful lot that's good about THE CALL- much more than you'd expect given the low-key buzz. Director Brad Anderson adapts well to a big-studio thriller, compared to his earlier, more indie-flavored films such as SESSION 9, and THE MACHINIST (a classic). Years spent honing his craft on cable, with episodes of THE KILLING, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, FRINGE and more have made Anderson a master of storytelling economy. Running a quick ninety minutes, THE CALL never feels short-changed in story or character development, while still making way for loads and loads of thrills.

Indeed, the first hour- which cross-cuts between Jordan at The Hive, and Casey, who's trapped in the trunk of the killer's car, is pretty superb. The editing, minus a few annoying jump-cuts and gimmicks, is mostly dead-on, and Anderson ratchets up the intensity to the point that there were people in the audience that I saw this with that were actually screaming in terror. John Debney's killer score, and some interesting musical choices (including inspired use of 80's one-hit-wonder Taco's cover of Puttin' on the Ritz) go a long way giving THE CALL a pulse-pounding beat, which is way better than most other studio horror flicks I've seen lately.

It also helps that the two leads, Halle Berry, and Abigail Breslin, are excellent. Berry's suffered through a few stinkers lately, but she brings her A-game to THE CALL, and makes a believable, compassionate dispatcher- who'd literally trade her own life for Breslin's if able. She's terrific, and I'd say this is her best role in a while. Abigail Breslin is also extremely likable as the young girl in trouble- and most importantly for a film like this, you really don't want anything bad to happen to her.

It's too bad then that THE CALL goes terribly wrong in the last half-hour, which feels really manufactured, and more like something out of one of the SAW sequels than this previously classy horror-thriller. I don't want to give anything away, but if you've seen the preview you've likely got an idea of what my big issue is. I don't know why Anderson and company decided to ditch the 911 dispatch gimmick after it had been going so well, but where they end up going with the film really strains believability- especially in the film's final twist.

But- like I wrote earlier, 2/3rds of a really solid horror film is better than none, and on that level, I still have to give THE CALL a recommendation. Sure- it goes awry, but there's a good, solid hour of the movie that's just great.

Source: JoBlo.com

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+1
6:30PM on 03/14/2013
I LOVE Brad Anderson's films, and consider myself a fan. In fact, Session 9 is one of my favorite horror films of all time. But I have zero interest in this. The trailer was awful giving pretty much the entire film away, and there was little that didn't feel meh or uninteresting. It's nice that Brad could land a big theatrical release like this, but I just wish it didn't all seem so typical.
I LOVE Brad Anderson's films, and consider myself a fan. In fact, Session 9 is one of my favorite horror films of all time. But I have zero interest in this. The trailer was awful giving pretty much the entire film away, and there was little that didn't feel meh or uninteresting. It's nice that Brad could land a big theatrical release like this, but I just wish it didn't all seem so typical.
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12:16PM on 03/14/2013

Agree

I completely agree although I give the movie a 5 out of 10. And the movie was solid but that ending was down right awful and completely ruined the film.
I completely agree although I give the movie a 5 out of 10. And the movie was solid but that ending was down right awful and completely ruined the film.
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12:15PM on 03/14/2013

Agree

I completely agree although I give the movie a 5 out of 10. And the movie was solid but that ending was down right awful and completely ruined the film.
I completely agree although I give the movie a 5 out of 10. And the movie was solid but that ending was down right awful and completely ruined the film.
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10:36AM on 03/14/2013

meh

still wont be seeing it unless i catch it on tv next year sometime
still wont be seeing it unless i catch it on tv next year sometime
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+1
10:17AM on 03/14/2013

good to hear!

I was already interested after watching the trailer, but now I just might give it a view.
I was already interested after watching the trailer, but now I just might give it a view.
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9:05AM on 03/14/2013
Thought the previews made it look horrible. I can't stand that song Putting on the Ritz song either, the song & video creeped me out as a kid. This coming from a huge 80s music fan.
Thought the previews made it look horrible. I can't stand that song Putting on the Ritz song either, the song & video creeped me out as a kid. This coming from a huge 80s music fan.
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7:06AM on 03/14/2013

Haven't even seen it yet...

...& i'm 100% certain that the *GIRL* who Halle Berry's character was unable to save from the serial killer earlier in the movie...turns out to be the "new" killer in the end.

...& i'm 100% certain that the *GIRL* who Halle Berry's character was unable to save from the serial killer earlier in the movie...turns out to be the "new" killer in the end.

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4:32AM on 03/14/2013
6/10? Much better than I thought.
6/10? Much better than I thought.
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3:18AM on 03/14/2013

Brad Anderson and Bad Endings

I am not at all surprised that this movie has a poor final act. I have noticed that most of Brad Anderson's movies tend to fall into a cliche formula. I liked Session 9, but the ending disappointed; same with The Machinist. Both of those movies ended with twists, but, without giving anything away, the twists falls into well-worn categories. The ending to Transsiberian wasn't particularly good either. I don't know what it is with Brad Anderson, but he simply cannot complete a movie. He
I am not at all surprised that this movie has a poor final act. I have noticed that most of Brad Anderson's movies tend to fall into a cliche formula. I liked Session 9, but the ending disappointed; same with The Machinist. Both of those movies ended with twists, but, without giving anything away, the twists falls into well-worn categories. The ending to Transsiberian wasn't particularly good either. I don't know what it is with Brad Anderson, but he simply cannot complete a movie. He builds up tension, only to let us down with the climax. This review suggests more of the same,
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1:03PM on 03/14/2013
From what i've heard Session 9's ending was actually changed from its original. If you've seen special features for the film you will know that there is a whole bit about a lady squater living in the hospital. Pretty much all of her bits were cut from the movie due to test audiences confusing her with Mary some how. Not sure how the original ending played out but i know the squater had some part in it.
From what i've heard Session 9's ending was actually changed from its original. If you've seen special features for the film you will know that there is a whole bit about a lady squater living in the hospital. Pretty much all of her bits were cut from the movie due to test audiences confusing her with Mary some how. Not sure how the original ending played out but i know the squater had some part in it.
2:11AM on 03/14/2013

From the director of Session 9!?

I am a huge fan of Session 9. I didn't realize this is Anderson's new project. That little nugget of info has made me somewhat interested in what I initially thought was going to be a forgettable thriller. On the other hand, it still looks like a forgettable thriller and I wish Anderson had chosen a "better" project. I'll see it on cable I guess.
I am a huge fan of Session 9. I didn't realize this is Anderson's new project. That little nugget of info has made me somewhat interested in what I initially thought was going to be a forgettable thriller. On the other hand, it still looks like a forgettable thriller and I wish Anderson had chosen a "better" project. I'll see it on cable I guess.
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1:44AM on 03/14/2013

Shocked

I am truly stunned. I clicked on the review expecting to see you give this flick a 2/10. The only trailer I saw looked bad and I had no intentions whatsoever on seeing this movie. After reading your review (and I'm not being funny), maybe I'll check it out on dvd. I know that still sounds mean, but you said the ending is what ruins it for you. Maybe when it hits dvd there will be an alternate ending, which would right the wrong you found in this movie.
I am truly stunned. I clicked on the review expecting to see you give this flick a 2/10. The only trailer I saw looked bad and I had no intentions whatsoever on seeing this movie. After reading your review (and I'm not being funny), maybe I'll check it out on dvd. I know that still sounds mean, but you said the ending is what ruins it for you. Maybe when it hits dvd there will be an alternate ending, which would right the wrong you found in this movie.
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1:37AM on 03/14/2013

Spoilers for Halle Berry movies

You've been warned.
You've been warned.
You've been warned.
You've been warned.
You've been warned.
Okay, so I haven't seen the call but in The Rich Man's wife Halle Berry was -surprise- the killer. In Gothica, Halle Berry -surprise- really did kill her husband. In Perfect Strangers -surprise- Halle Berry was the killer. So color me intrigued: does Halle Berry turn out to be the killer in this one?
You've been warned.
You've been warned.
You've been warned.
You've been warned.
You've been warned.
Okay, so I haven't seen the call but in The Rich Man's wife Halle Berry was -surprise- the killer. In Gothica, Halle Berry -surprise- really did kill her husband. In Perfect Strangers -surprise- Halle Berry was the killer. So color me intrigued: does Halle Berry turn out to be the killer in this one?
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12:58AM on 03/14/2013

Really?

The commercials make it look not good in the least. It's a horror film? I thought it was a made for Lifetime movie. Color me surprised.
The commercials make it look not good in the least. It's a horror film? I thought it was a made for Lifetime movie. Color me surprised.
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12:16PM on 03/14/2013
It is not really a horror movie. Don't know why the author of this story said that. It is more of a thriller than a horror film.
It is not really a horror movie. Don't know why the author of this story said that. It is more of a thriller than a horror film.
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