March 15, 2013
Halle Berry as Jordan Turner
Abigail Breslin as Casey Welson
Morris Chestnut as Officer Paul Phillips
Jordan Turner is a 9-1-1 operator whose accidental call-back to a girl at risk, costs the girl her life. Believing she is done with the stress of the business, she hangs up her headset and takes on an operator teaching position. While leading some new recruits on a tour of L.A.’s state-of-the-art 9-1-1 call center, Casey Welson – a young blonde teen – phones in from the trunk of her kidnapper’s car. A rookie with little experience receives the call, but when she can’t trace it, she turns to Jordan. Jordan attempts to keep Casey on the line as long as possible until the police can locate her. Cell phone tower hits keep the squad cars in close proximity until the kidnapper finds the phone and smashes it. The police seem to have reached a dead end, unless Jordan can figure out where he is taking her before it is too late… She may even end up taking this case personally and pursue the kidnapper herself (I know, you’re shocked).
Director Brad Anderson has some decent films under his belt – Session 9 (2001) and The Machinist (2004) among others. He seems to have a knack for psychological horror and suspense. Of course anyone who hasn’t seen his previous films and just watched The Call would think him to be another Hollywood hack just cranking out the same tired garbage to which audiences have become all too accustomed… pity. The writing was also sub-par, but the cast, which includes Halle Berry (Gothika) and Abigail Breslin (Zombieland), was certainly able and despite their dismally poor lines, did a fair job of making this movie bearable.
Like most standard box-sized suspense films, the audience remains fairly certain of a happy outcome throughout – thus minimizing much of the actual suspense. The characters are little more than cliché cardboard cut-outs complete with their own predictable storylines. Director Brad Anderson had a chance at the end to throw in a twist and create a sensationally-horrific scene – leaving genre fans with a contented smile… But, alas, he squandered it. Right when you think he may cross the boundary into bloodlust satisfaction, he quavers and runs away – making the scene far worse than wrought, but silly and easily ripped apart by the least critical of minds.
Yet, the film isn’t awful. How could any film starring Halle Berry truly be awful? The story is riveting at times. The audience knows where this one’s going, but remains uncertain exactly how it will get there. The decent acting makes for some tense moments. And even though this ends up being another ‘oh-no-they’ve-got-her’ suspense film, most of the action still revolves around a depraved serial killer. He comes complete with his own uniquely perverse fetish – producing the occasional startle and even some terror.
Bottom line: Unless you are dying to go see the closest thing to a horror movie playing at a theater near you, skip this one. There’s plenty of great stuff on DVD/Blu-ray, or On-demand. Check out Sinister, if you haven’t seen that one yet.