One’s ability to give movies the benefit of the doubt will be utterly depleted by ‘The Call’.
Brad Anderson’s (‘The Machinist’) latest film is a bit like meeting someone for the first time and for the next hour and a half they proceed to take a hand at you; once, twice even thrice you can forgive but when the stranger saves the biggest and most incredulous joke at your expense until last you can’t help but feel incredibly disappointed.
Halle Berry (‘Monster’s Ball’ and ‘Cloud Atlas’) plays Jordan Turner, a seasoned 911 emergency operator.
Jordan’s world comes crashing in around her when an 911 call goes horribly wrong and she’s left doubting her ability.
Six months later and Jordan has taken a step back from the 911 frontline and now works as an instructor. However, when teenage girl Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin - ‘Little Miss Sunshine’) is kidnapped, Jordan is forced back into the hot seat and must confront the awful demons from her past.
The first two thirds of this film play out quite well.
The opening emergency call is a teenage girl who is home alone; a prowler is attempting to break into her home and she calls 911. It’s nerve exhausting scene and it sets the rest of the film up quite well.
Six months later and Jordan is forced to deal with a similar situation when Casey is kidnapped from a shopping mall car park.
Casey manages to call 911 and trying to find her becomes the proverbial search for a needle in a haystack. It’s here that the film excels to a certain degree. Jordan talks Casey through what she needs to do in order for the police to find her. This sequence is so packed with tension that it makes the idea of Godfrey Bloom inviting Janet Street Porter, Germaine Greer and Caroline Criado-Perez to tea sound sanguine and tranquil.
But, rather like a UKIP party conference, ‘The Call’ can’t help but self-destruct.
For the first two thirds of the movie I was right there with Jordan and Casey as they attempt to out-wit mentally disturbed and teenage girls with bleached blonde hair obsessed, Michael Foster (Michael Eklund).
I gave the movie the benefit of the doubt and suspended disbelief so many times and was fine with it but the final act asks way too much and it was here that felt Anderson had gone not one, not two but several steps too far.
The final scene is a perfect example of crimes against cinema and within the space of two minutes ‘The Call’ had undone all of the good work that had gone before.
Berry and Breslin are satisfactory as Jordan and Casey respectively but I found Eklund’s performance infinitively more interesting.
I didn’t fear his character once but found myself becoming distracted with how much he reminded me of Jim Carey.
Certain scenes, which were clearly included to evoke some sort of fright or scare came across as almost farce like and there were several moments in the film that I found Eklund’s visage more humorous than horrible.
Anderson’s film needs more than a 911 call to make things better.
‘The Call’ is currently showing at the Brunswick Moviebowl; for full listings visit www.brunswickmoviebowl.com or telephone 028 7137 1999.
VERDICT: 2/5 - The first two acts of Brad Anderson’s movie play out quite well and are full of tension and suspense. However, it becomes utterly disconnected with what went before.
Michael Eklund is more comical and creepy. Eklund’s facial expressions are distracting and reminiscent of Jim Carey in ‘Ace Ventura Pet Detective’.
The film’s final scene is without question, one of the most incredulously awful of the year.