Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Video review: "The Call"

I’m not sure what’s harder to watch: a movie that starts out well and then flushes itself down the toilet, or a film that never had any idea how to be good in the first place.

You’d think the truly awful flick would be torturous. But it’s the good-movie-gone bad that tends to be more disappointing, since at least for a while it was on the right path. That’s the case with “The Call,” a tightly-coiled thriller that is really suspenseful through the first two acts and then rolls off a cliff during the last half-hour.

Halle Berry plays Jordan, a veteran 9-1-1 operator working at the Hive, the massive emergency response station that handles all of Los Angeles. Night after night she receives calls from people in distress. Usually it’s just a stumblebum blathering intoxicated come-ons or routine disturbances.

But on one fateful night Jordan receives the most harrowing call of her career – and she blows it. A serial killer brutally slays a young woman, and Jordan believes it’s her fault.

Six months later she’s finally back on the job, and relives the same scenario over again. This time, Jordan will do anything to save the girl’s life. Staying in contact with an abducted teen (Abigail Breslin) throughout her ordeal, Jordan tries to thwart the killer from afar.

Things go great, until director Brad Anderson and screenwriter Richard D’Ovidio take a left turn into disaster.

Instead of continuing the restriction of Jordan trying to prevent a crime from her work station – much like a laid-up James Stewart in “Rear Window” -- she ventures out into the world to take on the mastermind herself. The result is a lot of silly boo-gotcha moments and other horror-film tropes.

After an hour of terrific storytelling choices, “The Call” makes exactly the wrong one.

The DVD is decently stocked with extras, including a commentary track that includes the filmmakers, Berry and Breslin, and a making-of documentary.

Upgrade to the Blu-ray/DVD combo edition and you add deleted/extended scenes, an alternate ending, on-set tours, a featurettes on stunts and Michael Eklund’s audition for the role of the creepy killer.



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