I have seen many thrillers, but I’m surprised about how few thrillers about the suburban environment actually exist. I can think of a lot of movies with suspenseful material from the city to the military as the setting, but you don’t see a lot of these kind of films that look like it could happen next door. I think that much can be covered from this landscape as Rod Serling used this kind of idea all the time on The Twilight Zone. I can tell you that as a child, I had a big fear of potential burglars and kidnappers. In my mind, no matter how pretty a picture can look, something ugly can emerge without warning.
What I like about the idea of suburban thrillers is that danger can come to anyone; suburban’s are the most of the unsuspecting. One simple day at work can become the fight of their life. Take the case of a 911 operator. Though they listen to the darker sides of life, the police are the ones that have to handle the dirty work. So life is work isn’t too much for these phone operators…with exceptions. On such operator will become responsible for finding a serial killer in The Call.
In Los Angeles, Jordan Turner (played by Halle Barry) runs the normal life of a shift worker who handles calls with care, figuring out the best response for each situation. One evening, a call is received from a teenage girl who frighteningly tells that a man is trying to break in while she’s home alone. At first, things go well when the young woman opens a window, throws some sandals out onto the ground and hide under the bed in an attempt to trick the invader into thinking she’s escaped. But when the call becomes disconnected, Jordan accidently dials back, causing the noise of the phone to be heard by the man. This girl is taken and found the next day dead, naked, and buried in the desert.
Six months have passed and Jordan now works as an instructor for new operators, telling them never to become emotionally attached to the people on the other line. She takes another call that turns out to be a kidnapping. On the other side is another teenager named Casey Welson (played by Abigail Breslin), who is trapped in the trunk of a car with a disposable cell phone that cannot be traced. Not wanting to loose another kid, Jordan talks Casey through trying to signal other drivers and a possible way out.
I’ll admit that the trailers did not impress me. I was afraid that the preview had already shown the whole movie in ninety seconds and that seeing it wouldn’t do much. Was I right? Unfortunately, yes, but I’m not reviewing the trailer. To start off, phone thrillers aren’t anything new, but this one had a good start. The Call knows how to make the most claustrophobic spaces even smaller, making the situation even more uncomfortable.
I can see that Halle Berry wants her role to work pretty bad, but is left unfulfilled with an uninteresting character. She mostly plays the strong feminist, but that’s it. Abigail Breslin on the other hand makes out better as a character you feel sorry for. The movie gives more of a chance to show that she was a noble girl caught up in a bad condition. In the surprising opposite case of Halle Berry, our kidnapper (played by Michael Eklund) has a great back-story that’s almost good enough to rival Norman Bates. But Eklund looks to intimidating to pull off this guy. Do these characters at least end the story well. Without giving anything away, the first two thrids are effective, but the end takes an even darker turn that doesn’t match the smarter choices that Jordan and Casey made earlier.
I’ll give this three dispatcher headsets out of five. Despite a strange ending and an R rating, I encourage parents to take or let their teenagers see The Call. You’ll never know when a cell phone may be the only lifeline to dial with.