The Caller
dir Matthew Parkhill
scr Sergio Casci
prd Amina Dasmal, Robin Fox, Luillo Ruiz, Piers Tempest
with Rachelle Lefevre, Stephen Moyer, Luis Guzman, Ed Quinn, Lorna Raver, Cordelia Gonzalez, Marise Alvarez, Brian Tester, Gladys Rodriguez, Alfredo De Quesada, Aris Mejias, Leonardo Castro
release UK Jun.11 eiff, US 26.Aug.11
11/US Alcove 1h31
The Caller
Waiting by the phone: LeFevre

moyer guzman raver
edinburgh film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Caller An intriguing idea fuels this inventive horror film, making it enjoyably watchable all the way through. Although the moment you start thinking about the internal logic, it all falls to pieces. At least the actors all deliver committed performances, and the direction is stylish and very creepy.

Fleeing a bad marriage, Mary (Lefevre) moves into a rather grubby flat with But there's an old dial-face phone that starts ringing insistently, and the cackling Rose (Raver) on the other end gets increasingly threatening. She also claims to be phoning from 1979, which gives her an unnerving ability to torment Mary. A friendly neighbour (Guzman) provides some information, while sexy local professor John (Moyer) tries to help her. Of course they end up falling for each other, which angers both Rose and Mary's clingy ex (Quinn).

The premise offers several terrific jolts as we begin to realise the possibilities and repercussions of being menaced by someone 30 years in the past. And this time-travel element gives the story the necessary zing that keeps our adrenaline pumping as the suspense ramps up. So it's frustrating when nagging inconsistencies start emerging to derail the plot. And as things begin to get increasingly crazed, the film actually loses its momentum.

Set in Puerto Rico, Parkhill shoots the film with prowling camera work that constantly emphasises the characters' isolation and vulnerability, while the set design is a riot of outrageously deep shadows and sinister hallways. This atmospheric filmmaking effectively establishes the tone, even if it never develops into anything more interesting. Scenes are a collection of tension-building music, freaky camera angles and sudden movement.

Meanwhile, the cast members deliver nicely-graded, rather shadowy performances that hint at a lot of unexplored emotional turmoil and relational complexity. Still, all of this begs the question as to why Mary doesn't just change her phone number. Or move. And why doesn't her dog seem bothered by any of this? As it continues, this fundamental weakness in the script begins to take over, and efforts to scare us begin to feel a bit desperate. There are some superbly unnerving moments along the way, but the film isn't much more than a clever crank call.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 18.Jun.11 eiff

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall