Caller, The (2011)
Directed by Matthew Parkhill
Ghost stories have been around since the dawn of time. There are even early cave drawings of disembodied spirits haunting the living. It's because of these very facts that it's getting increasingly harder for movie makers to come up with a fresh take on some truly old bones. The Caller does just that.
The flick is set in Puerto Rico (that's something new right there!), where we find troubled divorcee Mary Kee (Leferve) trying to get on with her life after spending altogether too long with her former abusive husband (Quinn). With little money and even fewer choices, she moves into an old apartment in a worn-out complex. For the most part said apartment is furnished and even comes with a vintage phone. Some people would say the aged furnishings are "cute", but we horror fans? We know better. History once again leads to horror as almost immediately Mary receives a call on the old phone. On the other end of the line is Rose (Lorna Raver of Drag Me to Hell), a frantic older woman who's going through a bad relationship of her own.
As the days go by, the calls continue and the two women start to bond, but then it happens. Rose is becoming more and more unnerved and finally reveals to Mary that she is calling from decades ago. From there things take a turn for the major league spooky, and everything leads into a jarring finale that's as terrifying as anything you're likely to see this year.
For the most part The Caller delivers. It does bitchin' things that are not only cool and frightening but feel really fresh. Lefevre does a fine job carrying the bulk of the film on her shoulders. Firing her was definitely The Twilight Saga's loss but our gain. Plus, it's nice to have Stephen Moyer stick around for more than just a few minutes in a movie he shares top billing in (Open House and Priest, I'm talking to you). And Guzman is ... well ... Luis Guzman. Unfortunately, though, there are a few bumps in the road. Mainly, how much you enjoy The Caller is really dependent on how much logic you're willing to suspend. For example, Mary has a cell phone. Why even bother with the phone in her house? Why not get rid of it? Change the number? Get an answering machine? You see where I'm going.
Then there are the awkward production values. Yes, this is a low budget feature, but some things stick out like a sore thumb, like how come Mary doesn't turn on any lights in her house? The movie is pretty damned dark. And where the hell does her pet dog keep disappearing to? He's there one moment and then gone for half an hour. Then there for another few minutes. In short there are a lot of little things wrong with The Caller that can be mucho distracting if you let them.
However ... if you want to take the ride, the good far outweighs the bad, and in the end viewers should leave thoroughly satisfied by the spookshow presented before them. Part When a Stranger Calls, part Butterfly Effect, with a spooky chaser direct from The Cask of Amontillado, The Caller delivers tons of thrills, chills, twists, and turns. It may not be perfect, but it's damned effective.
3 1/2 out of 5