If you’ve seen Buried, Phone Booth, Cellular, Gothika, then you’ve seen the entirety of The Call.
A surly mishmash of thriller, horror and unintentional comedy genres, The Call stars Halle Berry in yet another role that questions the mental stability of her agent. Jordan Turner (Berry) is a 911 call operator who receives a call from a panic stricken teenager (Abigail Breslin) who has been kidnapped and thrust in the boot of a speeding car by a child killer. Turner is tasked with heroically helping the kid outwit her kidnapper and escape, simultaneously juggling her repressed memories of the last time this had happened.
The tone of Cellular and Buried is fused to an unholy mess as the two protagonists try and outwit the villain as the car zips through the freeway.
Anderson, who made a name for himself with incredibly smart, nuanced, creepy and finely detailed films such as Session 9 and The Machinist completely eschews logic, believability and fun with a host of hare brained plot points. The kidnapper drives a bright red car making himself the total opposite of the nondescript silent killer. The kidnapper also constantly manages to murder people in broad daylight just aft of the highway. The police are shown zooming around in choppers and cars with flashy cuts yet they fail to locate the position of the phone and even miss spotting a bright red car on a highway.
It all leads to a clumsy finale that suddenly changes gears from a cop chase thriller to Silence of the Lambs style horror, except without the innovation and class of that movie. Worse, the filmmakers confuse shock value with torture porn as the film becomes an increasingly ugly watch — a little girl is stripped and the killer is shown doing degrading things. Why the creative team felt this would entertain crowds or stand out as a fine piece of filmmaking remains a mystery.