Answering The Call…. Or Not

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Please don’t forget me.

That line is spoken at one point in time by Abigail Breslin, the film’s kidnapee. She’s been abducted by a sick and twisted (shocker?) psychopath that loves to snatch up little girls and do some weird things to them before burying them in dark and damp hole. Luckily for Bresin’s character Casey, there’s a determined call center lady (Jordan, played by Halle Berry) on the other line.

Brad Anderson‘s film The Call rarely does a thing to make you not forget it. Stripped down to the bare essentials The Call almost doesn’t even work as a DTV movie. Anderson’s direction, which used to be interesting and raw (see The Machinist) is exchanged for lots of close-up quick-cuts and an eye for directly ripping off lines and full scenes from other horror movies.

At one point the film reaches a laughably bad moment where Casey’s attempting to escape the deranged killer (Michael, played with mouth-clicks and odd facial expressions by Michael Eklund) by climbing from the trunk through the backseat armrest, which folds down. It’s weird, because the scene unfolds by way of hilarious camera angles and facial expressions from Casey. It’s almost as if Anderson is filming a live bowel movement. We get to watch first-hand as lifeless and one-dimensional Casey passes through the hilarious trunk scenes into an even dumber and unbelievable showdown between the killer and a few others. Anderson captures this moment painfully and hilariously, making you want to get up and clap when it’s over.

He makes us witness this excruciating act with nothing but a big ol’ smile on our face. I’m serious; you’ll be laughing your ass off at a moment that should be tense and full of gripping suspense.

Why does the film do this? Why does Anderson downplay almost anything serious in exchange for unintentional humor and dialog so shallow that you’ll be wondering if you’re watching a daytime soap opera or an actual movie?

Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to cast WWE superstar David Otunga in a speaking role? Why is there a Boy George song playing while the killer scalps his victims? Is it supposed to be ironic or an expression of just how twisted and ass-backwards the killer is? No. These things exist because no one has a fucking clue as to what they’re doing.

The Call is not thriller like it so wrongfully advertises itself as. The Call isn’t even a good comedy, because even some of the funny moments are too dumb for me. The film lost me somewhere in between Halle Berry‘s hairstyle and Morris Chestnut‘s casting as yet another detective/officer. Can the guy not get any other roles?

Let’s talk about the ending for a second. The crowd that I was with left such a mixed reaction. Half of them were screaming and cheering, even letting out a couple claps in between. The other half were booing and at one point cursing. I found these widely varying opinions to be perfect representations of why The Call fails so miserably. No one can seem to put their finger on what kind of film Anderson is trying to make, which is why there’s so many differing opinions.

It’s not like he struck gold here and made a film that’s so diverse and different that it will split audiences. He simply made a film that never sticks to its tone or even establishes one, if we’re being slightly more realistic. The Call has sections that can be classified as dramatic and others that I’d call comedy. It also tries becoming more of a straight-forward horror film at the end, with a blatant Saw rip-off tossed in right before things come to a dead stop.

The Call is almost as confusing as this article that I’m attempting to write. I started out thinking I’d cover the film in a basic review, but then I realized that there’s just no way of doing that without boring everyone to tears. So I tried going for an article highlighting some of the film’s brighter moments (which there aren’t many of), while discussing its dumber ones (which there are a lot of). But that didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped.

What we’re left with here is a jumbled and confusing result of one man chewing on a film that’s as tough as rubber and as dry as a toothpick. There’s just no texture or sense to any of it.

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