It’s the line that you’ve heard in almost every thriller/horror/cop film out of the U.S – “911 Emergency.” This time instead of your protagonist calling to alert the police that the killer’s in their house or a detective listening for clues; we’re alongside Halle Berry’s operator in the L.A “hive” where she and her colleagues are the front line for crime response. After receiving a call that goes wrong resulting in a killer getting to his prey, Jordan Turner (Berry) sidelines herself to recover. When a similar situation arises she’s dragged back into a call where a kidnapped girl’s (Abigail Breslin) life is in her hands.
Screenwriter Richard D’Ovidio has impeccable pacing whilst Jordan is tethered to Breslin’s Casey. During the kidnappping Berry’s operator formulates believable ways for Casey to attempt to get out of this situation and realistic obstacles and reactions by the antagonist to continue to change the game and remain steps ahead of the pursuing police. Director Brad Anderson relishes in piecing together fleeting incidental flashes of scenery and interesting (and often initially) abstract angles to mirror contrasting detachment of living this ordeal from a distance at one end of the line and the intimacy of this terrifying nightmare from the kidnapee. The flaws come thick and fast in the final act as clumsiness and poor decision making are imposed upon Jordan to envelope her into the particularly hairy finale. Berry and Breslin deliver frantic and energetic performances despite some of the wooden dialogue but it’s Michael Eklund playing bad guy, Michael Foster who gets to spiral into weirdness. Beginning the film with an ominous psychotic determination, the unravelling imperfection of the situation results in his performance devolving into a bad impression of Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The Call is a thriller that works tremendously for the duration of the titular ‘call.’ The minute that the call ends, it spirals into an avalanche of horror/thriller film clichés that results in disastrously bad and an unintentionally comedic climax.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to the audio review on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.