Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Caller: Where's That Damned 'Do Not Call' List When You Need It?

I have to admit, I don't watch too many screeners.  I suppose part of the reason is that I work full time and don't have all day to sit around watching films, so when I put one in the DVD player I'd like to assume it is going to be fairly watchable, and things like A Zombie Ate My Homework (don't bother looking it up, it's a fake title - I hope!) probably isn't going to light my fire.  Let's face it, there is a whole lot of crap out there in movie-land.  But when I was contacted to check out Matthew Parkhill's The Caller, I was pretty interested.  Conceding that the first thing that got my attention was Stephen Moyer's name being attached to it, I also liked the fact that it was listed as a thriller instead of straight-forward horror.  Sometimes a girl gets tired of all the pointless gore and boobies.

Getting said movie into my hands was another story.  Apparently they couldn't send it to a PO box so they needed my street address.  So I gave it.  And what did I get?  Three notices from FedEx on my front door stating I needed to sign in person for the package.  Now maybe I'm the weird one, but I WORK FOR A LIVING.  I am gone all day. I work every day.  From the traditional 9 to the traditional 5.  I am not home to sign for a package.  And when does FedEx deliver?  Weekdays from 9 to 5.  I can see my boss's face when I told him I had to stay home to be there when a movie screener came to my door.  Yeah, that would happen.  Finally after some finagling around with an extremely nice studio rep (thank you Cait!), they had it delivered on a Saturday. Wow.  Is this what it is like all the time getting screeners?  Why can't they just leave the darn things in my door?

ANYWAY, after all the issues and my subsequent down-time due to surgery, I finally got to actually watch The Caller the other night, and thank goodness it was worth the hassle.  I'd have been pretty disappointed if it had been a real piece of crap.

People with hair like this piss me off.
The Caller stars Rachelle Lefevre (yeah, the original red-headed vampire-bitch from Twilight) as Mary Kee.  First off can I just say I would like to have Lefevre's hair.  All the Redken hair products in the world won't make my hair look as wild and wavy as hers.  Jealous much.

So as the film starts, Mary is moving into a new apartment in San Juan (and we aren't really ever told why she is in Puerto Rico in the first place) and we quickly are made aware that she has a horrific estranged husband (Ed Quinn) who makes the dude in Sleeping with the Enemy seem like Prince Charming.  She's got her own place to escape him and begins to settle in.  Now I realize we are in a foreign country here, but wow - the walls in this apartment's kitchen are GREEN.  Like, St. Andrews Golf Course green.  Not sure I would have been able to handle that. She also has a landlord who keeps feeding her info regarding the history of her apartment, just like a good little useless extra character should do.  But played by the awesome Luis Guzman, he makes it work.

I never had a teacher this good looking. Ever.
Mary, trying to get out there and socialize in her own way, begins French classes at a local college.  Lucky for her she stumbles into a mathematical engineering class taught by Vampire Bill John Guidi (Moyer).  Though he does direct her to the correct class, it's obvious they have some chemistry, and more in the French sense than the mathematical sense, if you know what I mean...

Things seem to be flowing along alright until Mary gets a random phone call from an old woman looking for 'Bobby'.  When Mary explains she must have the wrong number and is about to hang up, Rose pleads for her to stay on the line, just to talk.

See what I mean about the green walls?
Thinking Rose is just lonely, Mary chats a bit - seems the two women have something in common after all, they both have had awful relationships in which their men let them down.  But she soon begins to feel uncomfortable when it seems like Rose knows a bit too much about her apartment and continues to ask about "Bobby".
(I'm not quite sure why there would be an old rotary phone in this apartment in the first place.  In the age of cell phones, why would that old dinosaur even be hooked up?  But for the sake of the plot, I will let that one go.)
It starts to go all hinky when Rose proclaims she is calling from the year 1978.  Say what?  Mary now thinks Rose is off her rocker, until Rose says she will draw something on the wall in Mary's pantry - and low and behold when Mary peels off some old wallpaper, the picture (of a rose, no less) is actually there.  So what do we have now?  A mystery. Who is Rose?  What happened to Bobby?  How does Mary fit in to all this? And just what else might be in the pantry??

When she lets John in on all the craziness he brushes it off at first, but then begins to agree something weird is going on.  The phone calls keep on coming, and in between that and her ex-husband who won't leave her alone we, as the audience, aren't sure what is live and what is Memorex.

As John and Mary take their relationship to the next level, John feels Mary needs to get Rose out of her life, if for her own mental well being if nothing else.  But when Mary tries to extricate herself from the supernatural friendship Rose becomes outraged and increasingly malevolent,  threatening great harm to those around Mary if she doesn't keep up the connection. 
There is what I would loosely call a twist near the end, which to me was fairly satisfying. 

One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes is  Night Call.  It features a woman who receives phone calls from "the other side", and in some respects this film reminded me a lot of it.  I've heard people complain that it is a rip off of the movie Frequency, but in all honesty I saw Frequency - and though I liked it, I didn't find it particularly  frightening at all. Yeah, let's just throw all time-travel movies in one pot and compare them. Let's add The Time Traveler's Wife, Back to the Future, and Groundhog Day into the mix too! Duh.
In all honesty it probably has more in common with The Butterfly Effect than any of those other films.

I think The Caller showed some genuine chills (just that creepy apartment of hers was ominous enough) and it certainly kept my attention throughout.  Rose is voiced by the uber-eerie Lorna Raver of Drag Me to Hell fame, and she is equally as threatening here.  Moyer is also quite good, almost as is expected.  But the film belongs to Lefevre, who shows off her post-Twilight acting chops as the terrified spouse just trying to get on with her life.

It's a dark film, and by that I mean both bleak and void of much natural light.  It's somewhat like an X-Files episode combined with an Outer Limits tale.  And since I like all those things, it worked for me.  The central mystery of what happened with Rose and her 'Bobby' keeps the tension rising, and with Moyer's participation it made it all the more agreeable. 
Definitely worth a look.

1 comment:

Nickie said...

Steve & I saw an ad for this. It looked really good.