The Caller (2011): Out now on DVD & Bluray
(15) Running time: 92 minutes
Director: Matthew Parkhill
Writer: Sergio Casci
Starring: Stephen Moyer, Rachelle Levefre, Luis Guzman
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
I have been reading a number of positive reviews for this involving, twisty thriller, with many claiming the film to be bordering on genius. I don’t get it to be honest, and all my hopes and dreams on a real great film were shattered after putting myself through an hour of boredom. Now, that is not to say this is a bad film, in fact, it is rather good in places, but there are many things wrong with this Frequency rip off, and sadly the much needed impact of the last third of the film does not really pay off. The film IS intelligent, but it feels it is too intelligent for its own good, and becomes confusing, but not in a David Lynch style good way, this feels more like writer and director got caught up in their own ideas and quite simply tripped over each other.
The plot is interesting enough, and this should have been a really good film considering what happens. In all honesty, the first half hour or so is very intriguing, and a little exciting. Rachel Levefre (Twilight) plays Mary Kee, a newly divorced woman who has moved away from her abusive husband to a new flat. She hopes to make a better life for herself and settles in to her new place and begins to get to know some of the neighbours. Her new, happy life is about to change as she gets a phone call from a creepy old hag calling herself Rose. The film gets really interesting when Rose, asking for a man who doesn’t live there, announces she is living in the year 1977 (we are currently in the present). Mary, afraid the poor old bat has mental issues, goes along with her eventually, and they become friends, however much darker times are ahead as the film turns sour and nasty a bit later on.
To reveal much more of the plot would drastically ruin your enjoyment, but let’s just say the plot does play out nicely and, at times, satisfyingly. However, the main issue is the way the film is delivered. The characters are wooden, the acting is poor and the pacing is far too slow. I’m all for a good build up and some intense, claustrophobic atmosphere, but sadly The Caller WANTS to create that but can’t manage it. The script is pretty poor at times, even though the plot had the ability to open up some masterful writing, it pretty much fails all the way through. You really want to get to know the characters, but it is hard to connect with anyone because they are just not delivering their parts convincingly enough. There is a serious lack of music which, in some more arty films, can add some real menace. Here, it just sent me to sleep. The Caller NEEDED some music to give it a boost in those moments when scenes were dragging on just a little too long. The other major issue was the blasted lighting, all dark and almost colourless. The film is very very dark, and at times it is difficult to see what is going on. It actually felt like I was watching an illegal download at times, that’s how bad the lighting and production get at. Annoyingly, Levefre is a fine looking actress, who enjoys wearing very tight shorts and underwear, but sadly the crap lighting means you miss out on a lot of this good stuff!
Saying all that, there can often be a lack of intelligent thrillers, and I feel The Caller does benefit from some clever ideas and a good (but sadly drawn out) story. Who knows, in the hands of someone like Lynch, this could have become a cult classic, but sadly it became instantly forgettable for me. A real shame, and a real waste of a good idea. This is worth a watch, and maybe if you go in with low expectations you will find much to enjoy here. Sadly, my expectations were too high.