Horror icons Lin Shaye and Tobin Bell team up for an eighties period horror that is basically a Nightmare on Elm Street film, but without its Freddy…..
When Tobin Bell utters the phase “We going to play a game” in a horror film, then you know those involved are going to be in trouble and while his menacing tones remind you of a certain Jigsaw, Timothy Woodward Jr.’s terror tale has more in common with an Elm St visit than it does with any elaborate murderous puzzle.
With its synth beat soundtrack making us all aware that this is taking place in the 80’s, The Call throws every cliché at the viewer, hoping that some parts will land with those watching and while many miss its mark, there are some decent moments that rise the film above the mediocrity on show at times.
Plot-wise its pretty simple! The new kid in town Chris (Chester Rushing) just happens to make friends with Tonya (Erin Sanders) whose backstory drives the film into the tradition horror path. In this, the grip of the plot is that Tonya’s younger sister went missing a few years back and her rage with the help of two brothers Brett (Sloane Morgan Siegel) and Zack (Mike Manning) is targeted at Edith Cranston (Lin Shaye) who ran a day care centre in which Tonya believes something happened there to her little sister.
After tormenting Edith and her husband Edward (Bell) for many months, on this particular visit in which Chris is invited too, Edith confronts the teenagers, vows that she has had enough and they will pay for their harassment, before hanging herself in which enables her to seek out her revenge from behind the grave.
Having basically fought off evil spirits in the Insidious franchise, Shaye now becomes one as the teenagers are invited back to Edith’s home as they are left something in her will and to receive it, all they need to do is to answer a phone in one of the rooms upstairs. Sounds easy? Not quite!
Its here that the intriguing concept ends up going over very familiar ground as its quite ironic that Shaye who had a small cameo in the original Nightmare on Elm St film and in New Nightmare, is now basically her own Freddy as the film’s second half, plays out like a poor version of that iconic franchise, with the teens having to face their own “worst nightmares”, with even lines like “You are in my world now” coming across as more borderline cheeky than a homage.
That’s not to say that The Call is an awful film. The weight of the entire watch rests heavily on the shoulders of Shaye and Bell who are always dependable and bring a much added quality that perhaps those around them somewhat lack even though Rushing nearly steals the show as the good guy Chris whose best intentions may have been a tiny bit misguided.
While some of the imagery is pretty formulaic, its filmed really well and Woodward Jr impresses behind the camera, raising its low budget to make it look more mainstream than it had any right to be, with the plot also throwing up some nice unexpected turns that even had me nodding my head in appreciation.
Overall what we get is a very mixed bag. The two horror icons leading the scares will no doubt bring their own fans to the proceedings and there are enough cheap scares and silly moments to keep the teen audience more or less entertained.
For the horror veterans out there who have seen this kind of terror countless of times before, they may want to take the phone off the hook so when poor Edith does phone, she’ll only get a frustrating engaged tone…..