The Call review – a phoned-in mix of ghouls, ghosts and well-worn tropes | Film

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This telephonically themed horror film, set in nameless American suburbia circa 1987, is not to be confused with the Korean horror film of the same name that also came out this year (and relies crucially on a landline call). This confection is a fairly shonky assemblage of tired tropes, full of dropped connections and annoying static.

Its biggest virtue is that it contains another gamey, and game-for-anything, performance from horror-film matriarch Lin Shaye. Shaye has played spooky ladies in scads of scary films, such as the Insidious franchise and lesser known fare such as the enticingly titled Helen Keller vs Nightwolves. Here she is Edith Cranston, a former schoolteacher who has been a raving mess since being blamed for the death of one of her pupils (although never convicted of the murder).

Nevertheless, a gaggle of teenagers, including Tonya (Erin Sanders), older sister of the murdered child, has persisted in taunting, teasing, playing pranks and bullying Edith for years. When Tonya and new kid in town Chris (Chester Rushing), along with brothers Brett (Sloane Morgan Siegel) and Zack (Mike Manning), finally push Cranston too far, she kills herself. But her husband Edward (Tobin Bell) summons the high-school seniors back to the house with a strange proposition: if they make a phone call on a decrepit old princess phone, ostensibly to a handset installed in Edith’s grave, and stay on the line for just one minute, they’ll each earn a substantial inheritance.

Being teens in an American horror film, the kids are too stupid and greedy to twig this is a terrible idea. Traumatic flashbacks, mangled corpses with gymnastic abilities and blood-splattered undead apparitions soon ensue. One might posit a subtextual interpretation that the youth of today, reared on mobiles, are so unaccustomed to landlines that they see these once ubiquitous household fixtures simply as conveyances for transmitting evil.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: The Call review – a phoned-in mix of ghouls, ghosts and well-worn tropes | Film

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