Today: April 15, 2024

The Caller

Maybe you were watching TV. Maybe you were in the shower. Maybe you were cooking dinner. At some point though we’ve all answered the phone to a wrong number.

Maybe you were watching TV.
Maybe you were in the shower.
Maybe you were cooking dinner.
At some point though we’ve all answered the phone to a wrong
number.

There’s always that weird unreal
moment when they ask for Billy or Juanita or whoever and you find yourself
saying: “I’m sorry. I think you’ve
got the wrong number.” Why are you
sorry? They called you! They should be glad you took time out
to talk to them in the middle of watching In
The Night Garden
, waxing your back or preparing some delicious fugu. And you don’t just think they have the
wrong number. You know they have
the wrong number. Yet, often
there’s that moment of hesitation, of resistance, where the caller obviously
mistrusts you: “Are you sure?” they’ll ask. Matthew Parkhill’s The
Caller
lives and breathes in that moment of mistrust.

Fleeing an abusive marriage, Mary
(Twilight’s Rachelle Lefevre) moves into a shabbily elegant Puerto Rican
apartment block and starts rebuilding her life, taking evening classes and
entering into a tentative romance with teacher John (True Blood’s Stephen Moyer). Ex-hubby Steven (Ed Quinn) has a nasty tendency to just show up announced however in
violation of a restraining order she’s taken out against him and he’s not the
kind of guy to leave until he’s good and ready.

When Mary gets a call on her old
rotary telephone in the middle of the night from a mysterious woman named Rose
(Lorna Raver) who’s looking for the
unfaithful boyfriend she claims lives in Mary’s apartment, things take a turn
for the decidedly weird. Mary realises that Rose isn’t just some random wrong
number; she’s actually calling from the past. Both lonely and unhappy, the two women bond across the
decades separating them, their regular chats almost a lifeline for the abused
Rose.

When Mary encourages Rose to adopt
a more feminist, can-do attitude and stand up to her boyfriend, she hasn’t
reckoned on Rose being madder than a koala in a tumble dryer however. Mary wakes up to find a very ominous
wall where her pantry used to be and Rose is more than happy to tell Mary in
loving detail how she killed her boyfriend and bricked up his body. Too late, Mary tries to break off
contact with the increasingly demanding and needy Rose only to find the past
bleeding more and more into her everyday reality as Rose takes retroactive
vengeance on Mary for every imagined slight, killing and maiming in the past
and changing Mary’s present in the process…

With a plot that owes more than a
little to classic TV shows like The
Twilight Zone
and Tales Of The
Unexpected
, English director Matthew
Parkhill
and Scottish writer Sergio
Casci
cheerfully mix genres to create a spooky little tale that exists
purely on its own terms. Is it a
ghost story? Kinda. Is it a psychodrama? Sorta. Horror movie?
Sci-fi? Almost
definitely.

The performances are good with Ed
Quinn obviously enjoying playing his abusive husband as a charming psychopath
and Stephen Moyer giving us a toothless version of his True Blood nice guy (without the brooding) as Mary’s slightly nerdy
love interest. Drag Me To Hell’s Lorna Raver as the
(mostly) unseen Rose is a terrifyingly malicious presence but the film stands
or falls by Rachelle Lefevre whose subtle, nuanced performance carries the
film. Here she proves she was
definitely the best actor in the Sparkle Fairies movies and for much of the
film her performance is ambiguous enough to suggest that Rose may just be a
figment of the damaged Mary’s psyche.

Subtle and understated right up
until its slightly hysterical last act, The
Caller
is a wonderfully ambitious British chiller with a refreshingly
ambiguous finale.

To Buy The Caller on DVD click Here or on Blu-Ray Click Here

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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