THE CALLING (2014)
Directed by Jason Stone
Small-town Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef discovers a grisly murder when she checks in on a neighbour. What she suspects is a one off killing soon turns into a serial killer investigation as more bodies begin to appear in similar killings. Aided by her partner, Detective Ray Green (Gil Bellows), and cop Ben Wingate (Topher Grace), who transferred to Hazel’s department from the city, Hazel attempts to uncover the motive behind the murders and stop the killer before he strikes again.
Based on the popular novel of the same name by Inger Ash Wolfe, THE CALLING is an original take on the serial killer murder mystery genre. Throwing in some religious ideology, the film develops an interesting angle where we learn who the killer is early on in the film, but his motive behind the killings is a mystery that is unravelled as the film unfolds.
As much as this is a thriller with its grisly murders, it’s actually an extremely witty film full of darkly comic moments too, most of which are generated by Susan Sarandon. Sarandon’s Detective Inspector is quite a character. Suffering from a chronic back injury, Hazel constantly must pop pills to ease the pain and often sleeps on the floor which she finds more comfortable than the bed. More often than not, she’s seen hitting the liquor, whether its at home with a glass or from the bottle at work, and for when she’s out on the job, a hipflask. Her stubborness adds to her charm and even her unique way of getting the attention of the police office receptionist will raise a giggle or two. I wouldn’t have thought comedy elements would have worked in a movie like this because it’s a very serious film at times, particularly with the threat of the serial killer, yet Susan Sarandon’s performance as Hazel and her interaction with everyone around her, in particular her mother (played by the fantastic Ellen Burstyn), is pure brilliance and compliments the tone completely.
The snowy, small town location of the movie makes a great setting as the little police force, consisting of only a handful of people, are thrust into something much bigger than they are possibly capable of handling. The viewer can’t help but root for the trapper hat waearing officers investigating the crimes as they try their best to not let the bigger city cops interfere with their town’s business, especially when they don’t believe Hazel’s suspicions of a serial killer in the first place.
There’s never a dull moment in THE CALLING. The film keeps the viewers engaged and on their toes, and when it decides to take an easier pace, it throws in the elements of dry wit and black comedy to keep viewers entertained. The performances from everyone involved, especially Sarandon, Burstyn, Topher Grace, Gil Bellows, Donald Sutherland and Christopher Heyerdahl, are remarkable and really make the film a triumphant success.
An amusing yet unnerving piece of cinema, THE CALLING thrills from start to finish.