WWE films have certainly come a long way since The Condemned and See No Evil. Incorporating director Brad Anderson and stars like Abigail Breslin and Halle Berry, the studio has created a truly solid suspense film.
The story focuses on Jordan, played by Berry. She is a 911 operator who is considered one of the best. However, she is thoroughly rattled when she assumes responsibility of the death of a teenage girl; leaving her post and assuming the duties of an instructor. Six months later, the killer has struck again, kidnapping a young girl at the mall. She resumes her role as an operator and must figure out where the killer is taking this girl and must stop him from claiming another victim. This movie builds a great amount of suspense and leaves the audience biting heir nails as they watch young Casey Welson, played by Breslin, continually attempt to escape and get stunted.
The greatest drawback of this film is that it was made about 10 years too late. There were several steps that needed to be made in order for the audience to believe that the emergency squad could not trace the call: Since they were using a prepaid cell phone, they couldn’t trace the call (*this was a creative liberty for the purpose of the film, in reality all pre-paid cell phones are E911 complaint and can be traced in an emergency.) Since her cell phone broke, it couldn’t be used to make the call. Since the second victim tried to make a call on his, the killer broke it and therefore it can’t be used. The perpetrator doesn’t have a cell phone on him, so when they learn his identity, the police couldn’t track his! There was so much contrivance to the plot all centered around the issue of technology that it becomes overly complicated and slightly convoluted.
The strength of this film comes from how real this movie truly feels. There was significant research put into what an emergency call center would be and made it credible; showing the stress and tension of the day to day work that they undergo. The killer isn’t made to look like some invincible, unstoppable monster; he makes mistakes and is clearly flawed and vulnerable. The way that other people react to seeing the car with the busted taillight or seeing the fight scene on the side of the freeway both feels very real and practical.
One of the weaknesses indicative of WWE Studios would tend to be utilizing its own talent pool to bolster the cast of characters. However, here it was done to great success. The talents of Breslin and Berry were utilized to their fullest, and they were only accentuated by David Otunga, who played Officer Jake Devans. Each of the characters had at least some kind of arc, regardless of the small amount of screentime they may have had. Overall, the acting in this movie was truly exemplary, making it one of the strongest films of 2013.
Despite the good things going for this film, the last fifteen minutes or so are a significant detriment to an otherwise well written movie. The climax leads Jordan to pursue where she believes the killer to be located in a scene reminiscent ofSilence of the Lambs. The resolution of the film will be truly derisive, as despite the emotional satisfaction one might receive from it, the climax is both out of character for everyone involved and ends too abruptly for the catharsis to truly settle in.
The Call is arguably the best film from WWE Studios to have a theatrical release, as well as one of the best suspense movies of 2013. There is a very real, natural feeling to the characters, setting, and story that serve to fully immerse the audience in every nuance of the film. The only particularly jarringly negative aspects of the film are the significantly out of character ending and the fact that the film hinges on cell phone technology despite it being an inconvenience to the evolution of the plot. There are no characters that stand out as detrimental, and the story, albeit not completely original, makes use of so many different aspects of psychological suspense that this is forgivable.
Three stars out of four.
The call opens March 15th. Watch the trailer here.