Combustible Celluloid
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With: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, David Otunga, Roma Maffia, Jos Ziga, Michael Imperioli
Written by: Richard D'Ovidio, based on a story by Richard D'Ovidio, Nicole D'Ovidio, Jon Bokenkamp
Directed by: Brad Anderson
MPAA Rating: R for violence, disturbing content and some language
Running Time: 94
Date: 03/15/2013

The Call (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Voice Squad

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This high-concept thriller has the potential to self-destruct, especially when it dives into totally implausible territory during its final stretch. But genre specialist Brad Anderson (Session 9, The Machinist, Transsiberian) gives it a taut, low-budget energy that keeps it pulsing throughout its entire running time. It helps that both Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin give tense, emotionally raw performances, inviting the viewer to care about their characters.

Jordan (Berry) is a very good 911 operator, until she gets a call from a teen girl reporting a prowler. Jordan makes a small error of judgment, and the girl ends up killed. Six months later, a shaken Jordan is working away from the phones, teaching trainees the ropes. But when a call from a frantic kidnapped girl, Casey (Breslin), comes in, she jumps in. She uses all her skills and training to try to find Casey -- locked in the trunk of a car -- before it's too late. But, to Jordan's horror, she eventually realizes that the kidnapper is the same man.

Anderson occasionally delves into moments of pure horror, complete with odd angles and off-kilter rhythms. Specifically, the serial killer elements seem fairly strong for a thriller of this type, but they do not ruin the overall effect. Indeed, the movie is so effectively constructed that it recalls those enormous hits of decades past, Fatal Attraction and The Silence of the Lambs. If only Berry's character had seen these movies, she could have sharpened up the ending.

Warner Home Video released a Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet combo pack, complete with a cast/crew commentary track including Berry, Breslin, and director Anderson; too bad it's kind of routine. There's a short alternate ending (nothing exciting), deleted/extended scenes, set tours, and other featurettes. Audio and visual quality is top-notch.

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