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The Call


Because ‘Rescue 911’ was taken.

Rod Lott June 27th, 2013

Watching The Call was fun, and I suspect it would be even if my 13-year-old daughter weren’t screaming from fright the entire time. It’s exactly the kind of preposterous nerve-jangler Hollywood pulls off pretty well, moving so fast that it hopes you don’t notice all the holes in the plot.

thecall

Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas) leads the show as Jordan Turner, a veteran 911 operator in Los Angeles. (If anything, she should dial 911 for help with her distracting hairdo.) In the prologue, she’s giving questionable advice to a girl who calls about a prowler, resulting in the teen’s death.

Six months later, Jordan is still on the job, but only in a training capacity ... until a frantic call from another teen girl reluctantly puts her butt back in the seat. The young woman (Abigail Breslin, Zombieland) has been abducted from a mall parking garage and currently is locked in the trunk of a moving car driven by the same killer (Michael Eklund, The Divide) from half a year prior.

He listens to Taco’s "Puttin' on the Ritz" by choice, so we know something’s off with him. As it turns out, he’s a total lotion-in-the-basket type. By the time we learn that in the third act, The Call enters really ridiculous territory — that goes double for the coda — but remains so engaging, viewers aren’t going to reach for the “stop” button. Also, it’s extremely awkward for Breslin, aka Little Miss Sunshine, to be romping around shirtless for so long.

The slick thriller marks a return to form for Brad Anderson, who stumbled with his previous film, Vanishing on 7th Street, after raising pulses with the likes of Session 9 and The Machinist. This could have been a strictly for-hire gig, but Anderson makes his imprint evident — or at least as much edge as a major-studio picture affords him.

The Call will bring to mind similar — and superior — tech-driven efforts like 2004’s Cellular, 2010’s Buried and last year’s underseen Brake. All may be dated years down the line, but for now, they work in milking tension out of a simple concept.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray/DVD combo release includes an alternate ending that doesn’t change anything, but be sure to check Eklund’s audition footage, in which he dances around a kitchen in his BVDs with a life-size doll. It leaves little question as to why he won the role. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
Brake Blu-ray review  
Buried Blu-ray review      
The Divide Blu-ray review     
Vanishing on 7th Street Blu-ray review    
Zombieland film review  



 
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