With an audio montage of emergency calls played during the opening credits, The Call offers a tension that is also similar to Zero Dark Thirty – placing its audience behind a desk and in the shoes of a strong female protagonist.
The Call quickly builds engaging tension and it also built up my hopes that it would lead to a satisfying conclusion rich with irony. I didn’t walk into the theater with this expectation, but I walked out disappointed.
That I could be disappointed is something of a testament to the success of the story’s suspense. To be fair, since Berry and Breslin aren’t here to defend themselves, the only problem I have with the movie really comes at the end. Don’t worry, reader, I’ll warn you before the spoilers come!
Jordan (Berry) learned from her late father that being a cop means knowing your choices could save a person’s life, or end it; and the day you are not able to carry that weight is the day you retire. Jordan’s story begins with that day.
Jordan takes an emergency call from a young girl who is hiding from a violent intruder. After the call is lost, Jordan re-dials the number and the ringing phone tips off the intruder to the girl’s hiding place; he picks up the phone and Jordan pleads with him not to hurt the girl. Before the dial tone, the unnamed, two-dimensional serial killer leaves Jordan with the condemning response, “It’s already done.”
If you’ve seen the trailer you already know what you’re in for: mostly psychological suspense, with some bloody sequences and stabbing scenes. Breslin is also seen in her bra in quite a bit of the movie, though it’s not in a sexual context.
While the surprising direction for the formulaic script supported by acting talent left me clutching for subtext, the movie falls short of turning its title into a double entendre. I foolishly hoped for a moral calling in the face of adversity or an act of heroism. For reasons explained below, the movie gives up on meaning and stays as two-dimensional as the villain.
With a story that finds suspense in the direction and in the hands of capable leads, including a very creepy, white-bread serial killer (Michael Eklund), The Call will appeal to those movie-goers strictly looking for a psychologically twisted thrill. For those of us with a pallet for something more, I just can’t recommend this one, even for rental. Skip it! And here’s why you should:
Jordan, goes to the American Gothic Creepville that is the suspect, Michael’s home away from home. She ends up in an underground murder villa that reminds me of Buffalo Bill’s basement from The Silence of the Lambs. Jordan discovers the killer in a blood-spattered honeymoon sweet with wigs that turn out to be the still-healthy blonde-haired scalps of numerous victims.
Jordan narrowly saves Casey (Breslin), blonde locks and all, but it’s not long before Michael is after them. The two ladies escape his clutches and knock him unconscious. Jordan is about to call police, but blondie has other ideas.
The next scene, Michael wakes to find himself bound, perhaps to get a taste of his own medicine. Instead, the ladies leave him locked away forever in his underground lair. Being the only two people to know about his lair, they concoct a story for the authorities and walk away, leaving him screaming just like his victims…
oh yeah, the victims! What about standing up for the victims? Do we see justice for them? Nah!
And that’s what I find so unnerving. We’re shown about a dozen, refrigerated scalps in the bloody bedroom. The message is clear: Michael has been doing this a long time, and has many unidentified victims.
So after all this trouble, after all the insane close-ups and courage in the face of heart-pounding tension, our heroines forgo the trouble of helping the families of the killer’s victims with closure and justice. Yep, that’s a rap. Roll credits.