Monday, May 28, 2012

REVIEW: The Caller (2011)

I did not really expect anything from this film, The Caller, but it turned out to be one of the more inventive horror movies of the last year, with a really creative premise that, while outlandish, actually works in the movie’s favor to create some real tension, drama and atmosphere. Does that sound surprising to you for a 2010s horror movie? Well, let’s dig into The Caller and see why it’s so good.

Director: Matthew Parkhill
Starring: Rachelle Lefevre, Stephen Moyer, Luis Guzman

The Caller is a film about a young woman, Mary, who has just moved to a new town. She starts getting mysterious, unsettling phone calls that it turns out are from a woman in the 70s. The woman keeps getting crazier and crazier when Mary tries to break off the phone calls, and looks for revenge in a way that I think many horror fans will just find delightful, it’s so creative and chilling.

Now, something this film requires that a lot of people do not have anymore is suspension of disbelief, that age-old creed that allows a film to go into uncharted territory with its plot and still retain the audience’s willing participation. Basically all one really needs to attain suspension of disbelief is to craft an air-tight story in spite of whatever oddities and unrealistic elements the plot harbors. This is a time travel movie, so some suspension of disbelief is granted there by its very nature, but the problem is that some people really won’t even watch movies like this simply because the premise is so goofy. I welcome a “goofy” premise like this! The Caller is one of the more original horror plots I’ve seen lately. Give me something outlandish, something ghoulish, something horrific! Give me something with imagination.

Okay, I digress – The Caller is a really well done horror film. The acting is solid, with Rachelle Lefevre giving a pretty good performance as the lead; nothing spectacular, but she gets the job done. That pretty much goes for everyone in this thing – no standout performances exactly, just enough to get you to believe they are who they say they are. The lighting is grimy and dark, and helps out with the seedy atmosphere the film creates. A lot of the movie is staged in Mary’s apartment, so the atmosphere had to be really good to make up for that, and it is. There is always a dark, dirty pall over everything in this film, even in the daylight. Nothing ever looks too nice or clean.

But mostly the draw of the film is just the batshit crazy story. At first I was like, man, this is just going to be another droll ‘phone stalker’ thing without much to redeem it, but once it was revealed that the mysterious and deranged caller on the other line is actually calling from over thirty years in the past, things get more interesting fast. Who is this nut of a woman? How is she making phone calls to the future? We don’t know, and that’s part of why it’s so bizarre and chilling. Apparently the woman was supposed to kill herself – the gardener tells Mary this, as he was the one who found herself. However, once Mary intervenes and incidentally changes the past…well, things start to get interesting fast.

The Caller is just a great flick. I don’t even want to spoil it too much; that’s how cool it is. This is in the unique position of being a horror flick that’s also a time-travel science fiction in its own way, and that gives it a unique flavor, but the strong writing, believable acting and creative, imaginative scares jettison The Caller into actual A-list quality horror. If you haven’t heard of this, well, here’s me telling you – go see it, and you won’t be able to sleep for a week.

Image copyright of its original owners.