Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Crime, Thriller
  • 2013
  • 94 mins

The Call

Film4 The Call

Synopsis

A Los Angeles emergency services operator (Halle Berry) takes a call from a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) locked in the trunk of a kidnapper’s car, and must talk her through her own rescue.

About

“Don’t make promises,” veteran Los Angeles emergency operator and instructor Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) dispassionately informs her class of newbies. It’s far too easy, as anyone can see, to get personally involved when scared people call you for help in their most desperate hour. But after one 911 (aka, 999) call goes bad for Turner, she gets personally involved with another - though it would have been difficult to disconnect, emotionally or telephonically, with this one anyway, since the caller is a kidnapped teenage girl who is phoning from the trunk of her abductor’s car.

Cinema is rife with serial killer films, but the standout joy of this one is how it smashes to smithereens the tired trope of woman-as-victim. While similar movies often take pleasure, and hope we will too, in the easily terrorized weaknesses of a “clever” madman’s targets, here we have feisty Abigail Breslin (Zombieland, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl) refusing to give in to her fate or give up trying to escape. Her Casey Welson is, despite the made-for-melodrama circumstances, one of the most realistic teen girls popular film has offered us in recent memory.

And Berry’s (Cloud Atlas, X-Men) Turner is a model of consummate professionalism: cool, calm, and capable as she talks Casey through trying to determine where the moving car is, where it might be heading, and how to draw attention to herself in a way that might bring nearby help. These are smart, resourceful women who don’t need rescuing: they’ll rescue themselves, thank you very much.

It does all get rather preposterously silly in the end, but director Brad Anderson, taking a studio step up from his previous indie work, never loses the goodwill he gained early on by bringing the same fresh perspective to genre storytelling he utilized in his unsettling films The Machinist and Session 9. This is tense, effective popcorn pulp that doesn’t make you feel that you’ve seen this same story a hundred times before.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Abigail Breslin, Halle Berry
  • Director: Brad Anderson
  • Composer: John Debney

In a nutshell

The familiar serial-killer flick gets a welcome shakeup, upending the woman-as-victim cliché and offering a bracing new perspective on an oft-told tale.

by MaryAnn Johanson

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Amy

    Amy

    Senna director Asif Kapadia tells the story of Amy Winehouse in her own words with the use of unseen archive footage and previously unheard tracks

  • Film4 Poetry

    Poetry

    When a woman receives a devastating diagnosis and discovers a dark family secret, she finds solace in a poetry class

  • Film4 Evil Dead

    Saturday Night Shocks on Film4

    Horror, mystery and suspense stake its claim on the weekend. A new season of Saturday Night Shocks comes to Film4.

  • Film4 Warm Bodies

    Warm Bodies on Film4

    Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer star in this classic tale of zombie meets girl, Jonathan Levine's rotting flesh take on Romeo and Juliet on Film4.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Youth: first reviews at Cannes

    Early signs indicate that Paolo Sorrentino's Youth, starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz and Paul Dano, which premiered in Competition at Cannes this morning is polarizing critics: some

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Cannes 2015: Carol, and the rest

    Film4 Channel Editor David Cox reports from Cannes on Todd Haynes' critically-lauded drama Carol, as well as other festival gems... [caption id="attachment_4528" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Caro

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Tweets @Film4

  • RT @Phil_on_Film: @Film4 I love that tagline: "...silent as gunsmoke...hot as the revenge that drove him!"

  • Morning, folks! We're starting the day at 11am with Randolph Scott in Budd Boetticher's 50s western Ride Lonesome. https://t.co/G8fHA4KknM

  • RT @Screendaily: Andrew Haigh's next film to be 'Lean on Pete': EXCLUSIVE: Film4 backs development of Haigh’s 45 Years follow-u... http://t…

  • @StellarRocker Glad you enjoyed it, Anna! Such a powerful film.

  • @ellasheehan4 👍

Share