Ever since Scream swept through mainstream cinemas in the nineties, the use of a telephone as a means to transmit terror has become somewhat cliched. Given the title of Matthew Parkhill’s mystery thriller meets horror film, The Caller, and its origins and setting being in Puerto Rico, an American commonwealth, viewers would be forgiven for expecting a typical Hollywood-style slasher reboot.
Whilst the film certainly possesses many generic elements, and at times cliches, it provides enough innovation to make it a worthwhile watch for fans of the genre.
Twilight’s Rachel LeFevre leads the way as Mary, who has just escaped a bad marriage and moved into a new apartment. But a new problem is lurking around the corner, or more accurately, on the other end of a telephone line. A distraught and seemingly confused woman, Rose, begins calling her new residence, looking for her husband. As the calls get more and more sinister, the question Mary begins to ask herself is not where Rose is calling her from, but when¦
Although the film opens with a series of over-dramatic scenes, using far too much ominous music and false-alarm scares, it eventually finds an even pace and satisfying rise of tension. A reasonably interesting narrative develops that isn’t quite as predictable as expected. LeFevre is excellent as Mary, and the film produces some impressive moments of shock and dread, without resorting to gore or torture-porn tactics.
The lighting, sound and music are utilised very effectively – even if the early overuse of them starts to dilute their effectiveness somewhat. Unfortunately, however, The Caller is certainly not without a few major flaws. Other than LeFevre the rest of the cast are bland and the characters all either too cliched or just too dull.
Ed Quinn plays the almost comical caricature of an evil ex lover, and his involvement as the tormenter Steven generally just detracts from any tension. Stephen Moyer (True Blood) is rather tedious as the ˜good guy’, and although the crazed caller Rose, played by Lorna Raver, has a few menacing moments, on occasion it’s difficult to take her too seriously. In addition to this there are a few glaring plot holes that are hard to ignore.
Fans of these thriller horror hybrids, that rely on more than gratuitous gore, should enjoy what is on offer in The Caller. But the excess of clichÃ©s and assortment of predictable, bland characters mean that it struggles to completely shake the ‘seen it all before’ tag that many will place upon it.
The Caller is showing at the Cameo on Monday 20th June at 20.00 and Wednesday 22nd June at 20.00. Visit the EIFF website for more details.