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:: The Call

Halle Berry is in desperate need of a good film. It’s almost become laughable that she is an Oscar Award winning actress as her career seems to have gone downhill since her infamous performance in ‘Catwoman.’ Well, she doesn’t exactly set the world on fire with her performance in ‘The Call,’ but it is a step up from the very ordinary B-Grade movies she has been making over the last few years. The good news for film buffs is that ‘The Call’ is also a lot better than your normal popcorn thriller.

The film centres around Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) a 911-call operator who is confident about her job, until the day she receives a phone call from Leah Templeton (Evie Louise Templeton), a terrified teen who is frantically trying to escape from a home invader – Michael Foster (Michael Eklund). Sadly, Jordan makes a huge mistake and her error of judgment ends with Foster murdering young Leah, something that Jordan has problems dealing with.

A few months down the track and Jordan is now working as a trainer for those interested in becoming a 911-call operator. Her confidence is shot and no matter how much her Police Officer boyfriend, Officer Paul Philips (Morris Chestnut) and her colleague Flora (Denise Dowse) try to help her out she doesn’t have the confidence to return to ‘the hive’.

But then one day she just happens to be on the floor (with some rookies) when another terrified teen calls in – this time it’s Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin) who has been abducted and is now in the trunk of a car being driven by Foster. With nobody having any idea where Foster is taking Casey, Jordan steps up and decides that there is no way that she is letting this girl die.

Director Brad Anderson has been slowly building up to this, his work on shows like ‘The Shield,’ ‘The Wire,’ ‘Fringe’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ has been noteworthy, then of course, there was the great work he did on ‘The Machinist.’ Here Anderson almost does the unthinkable, he makes what should be a simple crowd-pleaser thriller into a nasty thriller that at times borders into ‘The Silence Of The Lambs’ territory.

There are some low points in ‘The Call’, at times it seems like the screenwriter has almost felt trapped by the fact that Jordan is mostly restricted to the call centre, and it’s never fully explained why it seems that Paul is running the investigation into Casey’s disappearance and not a detective. But it’s the nastiness of this film that really makes it stand out. Once the audience realizes that Anderson is prepared to kill off his characters in some pretty nasty ways there is no way they can simply settle back into their seats with ease. There are also a few cliched moments in the film, but Anderson redeems himself with a finale that really takes ‘The Call’ into some truly nasty territory.

Halle Berry does enough with ‘The Call’ to suggest that she still has what it takes to put in a good performance when she is given the right script to work with. Young Abigail Breslin also shows just how much she has matured as an actress over the years, but the standout here is Michael Eklund who steps into the role of the psychotic Foster extremely well, so well in fact that he really deserves to be listed alongside some of Hollywood’s most evil characters.

WWE studios (yes, they are tied to wrestling as well) seem like they are determined to produce some good thriller films, and to their credit this is a big step up from their ’12 Rounds’ film (that starred John Cena) that surfaced a few years ago. ‘The Call’ may be nastier than most popcorn thrillers but it also has more of a storyline than films like ‘Hostel’ or ‘Saw’.