Halle Berry as a 911 operator who’s lost her mojo isn’t exactly an easy sell for a thriller. Not for me. Which is why I didn’t check The Call out when it opened in theatres. Big mistake.
Because this is one tense little thriller that does a lot with its premise.
Berry as Jordan–the operator who made a mistake that cost a teenaged girl her life–is effective. She is tense, she is nervous, but she is also well-trained and something of a fighter. So when she receives a call from Casey (Abigail Breslin), a girl who has been abducted from the parking lot of a mall, she uses everything she’s got to try and keep the girl alive.
This is a premise that could go wrong very quickly but the filmmakers (directed by Brad Anderson, director of the Machinist) insert enough obstacles, and minor victories, into the narrative to keep audiences watching right through. The fact that Casey is on a burner cellphone means that it doesn’t have a GPS chip that can be quickly tracked. On the other hand, being able to kick out the taillight allows her to draw the attention of passing cars.
That’s just one set of examples of how things look very very bad for a while and then start looking good again.
Movies like this almost always flub their ending but the choices made in the finale by writers Richard & Nicole D’Ovidio and Jon Bokenkamp work very well within the framework of this narrative. In fact aspiring screenwriters would do well to watch this film as a learning exercise.
Final Analysis: The Call is very good ‘all alone at night’ movie. Watch it with the lights off and I’m pretty certain you will sleep with the lights on.
My Advice: Seek this one out for sure. Very effective piece of entertainment.