No Caller ID
Heather receives a mysterious call in the night. After several strange occurrences she realises that she is not alone and that she may be in grave danger.
Two years ago, New Zealand filmmakers Guy Pigden and Harley Neville showcased their shared offbeat sense of humor and love for the horror genre, when their feature film I Survived a Zombie Holocaust (see my review here) played at Screamfest in Los Angeles.
This year, they’re back with a short film entitled No Caller ID.
A young woman named Heather (Holocaust’s Jocelyn Christian) awakens in her city dwelling to the sound of her dog scratching and whining. When she investigates, several ominous phone calls begin to bombard her cell phone.
As I’ve said in other recent reviews, the latest trend in horror seems to be all about taking the worn-out ideas and cliches of classic horror films (mainly of the stalk-n-slash variety), and turning them around to make something new, but still nostalgic and recognizable. Festival darlings in the form of short films like The Babysitter Murders and Night of the Slasher make us feel comfortable in things we already love and then throw us a curveball – and it makes everything right in the world for us horror freaks.
No Caller ID joins the company of such nostalgia pieces with a catch. It successfully places the audience in a familiar situation (woman alone at home receiving mysterious and threatening phone calls), but takes a different route.
Christian doesn’t have much to do as our damsel in distress – just be scared and run around a lot – which she does with great aplomb. It’s a very serviceable performance in what is basically one of those “punchline” horror shorts. There’s not necessarily character development and no real “story”… it’s all about the big payoff. But I for one love these sort of gems.
The mask of the intruder is a sort of jack-o-lantern-esque style, certainly terrifying. And along with the creepy work of the mask-makers, the film offers plenty of “boo” moments and a good build of suspense – especially as the phone call conversations drag on and Heather becomes flustered and frightened.
I asked Harley Neville (star and producer) about the dog – ‘cause frankly, I was pretty impressed with the pooch’s performance. He explained that the dog is a rescue and quite submissive. The fact that the canine convincingly appears very scared, is because the dog is generally on edge in real life. So, let’s all send kudos and belly-rubs to that four-legged star-in-the-making.
What I found highly intriguing about the short, is that it was made to appear in the filmmaking team’s forthcoming feature, Older (a departure from horror). The protagonist in that film is a filmmaker, and the footage from No Caller ID is one of his successful projects.
So a film made to be in a film, is seeing a successful festival run in its own right. Is that an “art imitates life imitates art imitates life” sort of thing?
Neville said that they decided – since they had to hire a crew to shoot the film within a film anyway, that they may as well go all out and do it up with style and substance – and use it to further advantage. Killing two birds with one stone, as it were.
No Caller ID is a quick 8 minute short (take note short filmmakers, since the “shorts” seem to be getting longer each and every year), of how much you can accomplish in such a little amount of time. It’s a very joyful take on the slasher/home invasion subgenres and a bit of a walk down memory lane. In other words, we’ve seen this before and yet – we haven’t.