Director – Matthew Parkhill
Cast – Rachelle Lefevre, Stephen Moyer, Luis Guzmán, Ed Quinn, Lorna Rayer
Release Year – 2011
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film that had interested me for quite some time due to its unique storyline that I figured would suck me in from the get-go. Finally presented with an opportunity to view this piece, I must say that the storyline is everything that I expected it to be – engaging, ever-developing, and tense – and complimented with positive direction The Caller wound up as one of the better horror films of 2011 despite a few faults that thankfully were not enough to ruin the experience for me.
Recently divorced Mary Kee is suffering the troubles of starting over with a new life, but her troubles worsen when soon after moving into a new apartment she begins to experience mysterious phone calls from a strange woman. The calls are harmless at first, but when Mary learns the meaning behind the calls she finds herself in a paranormal battle with a woman terrifying her in strange and unusual fashion.
If you know me then you know that I love films involving someone moving into a new residence and suffering the horrors associated with the residence that they were not aware of beforehand, and when you throw in the added effect of a creepy caller it just makes things all-the-more interesting for me. Things start a bit slow, but it does not take long before Mary is forced to endure the daily calls from a mysterious woman looking for someone that she believes to live in Mary’s apartment, and slowly but surely numerous developments arise that add some nice chills to the matter, and in supernatural form. Eventually we learn that the woman is in fact calling from the past, and with numerous tie-ins to Mary’s childhood, all elements that I never saw coming but ones that I gladly accepted as they added a very unique take to this “new tenant” idea that I enjoy so dearly. As these developments progressed I did find the film harder and harder to follow, and I will let you know now that this is a film you definitely want to pay close attention to, and not be side-tracked or fooled by its slow start. The supernatural elements eventually turn this piece into one apparently (never find out 100%) warping numerous dimensions into one, in which whatever happens in one dimension affects the other two. In a sense this experience heads the way of Christopher Smith’s Triangle at times, which thankfully never became convoluted as other films tend to suffer when they bring in too many creative ideas at one time. Aside from this we are given a strong sub-plot involving Mary’s husband who constantly harasses her and disregards the restraining order against him, which is sure to add a depressing feel to this sad film due to how hard-to-watch some of those scenes are. I did find a few faults in the storyline, which all had to do with character usage. We are given a few characters that honestly came off as characters writer Sergio Casci felt that he needed to include, but were otherwise worthless due to how he used them. I was very much displeased with the usage of Mary’s pseudo love interest John Guildi, who played a fairly prominent role in the film for the first two acts but then was suddenly cut off for the rest of the film, never once again appearing on screen. I am not sure what happened, and if there were possibly some third act scenes with him that were just deleted, but idea was a stupid one nonetheless that held this piece back a bit. I do applaud Mr. Guildi for really trying though, and for giving us a very unique storyline that came out much more complex than I imagined.
Director Matthew Parkhill did a good job delivering this story to us, giving us gloomy sets and grainy cinematography very much reminiscent of the sad subject matter the story brings us. His execution of the horror was great, giving us many chilling moments as each creepy development was brought to light, and the actress portraying the woman on the phone, Rose (Lorna Raver; Drag Me To Hell), was equally great in her execution of her character, who never makes an on-screen appearance and is forced to use her voice (accompanied by Parkhill’s direction) to deliver some good chills. The rest of the character performances were positive, some more than others of course, and Parkhill’s musical score was enjoyable and fit the mood of the film very well. Most of the “horror” provided comes from the developments, although we do get a few good scenes of tangible horror that managed to give a few good shocks, showing Parkhill has what it takes to give us a solid horror experience.
Overall, The Caller is a positive horror experience that gives us great atmosphere, positive direction, and a very engaging story that consist of numerous developments that further its enjoyable complexity. There are a few faults here and there, but for the film this is it is very much worth a positive recommendation.