The Caller (2011)–review

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Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight) is Mary, a recent divorcee who has just moved into a new apartment. She also has a stalker problem. Her abusive ex-husband doesn’t acknowledge that there’s a restraining order issued against him, and Mary is also getting unwanted phone calls that are from a woman named Rose, calling from 1979.

Rose’s boyfriend once lived in Mary’s new apartment, and the old rotary phone that came with the place somehow works as a connection to its past. At first the calls just get on Mary’s nerves, but after some bonding regarding the respective ladies’ troubles with the men he their lives, Mary says something that she lives to regret. Rose takes it to heart, though, and after there’s a disturbing change to the apartment both ladies realize that whatever Rose does in the past can change the future. Shocked by this new turn of events, Mary unplugs the phone to block out Rose’s daily calls. This doesn’t sit well with Rose. When Mary finally plugs the phone back in-she can’t get a signal on her cell phone-she finds that Rose has discovered Mary as a child. Now the threats begin. And they turn deadly.

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Even though, at times, what Rose does can be predictable that’s really not what makes this film thrilling and terrifying. It’s the question, “How can one battle a monster from roughly thirty years distance?.” Screenwriter, Sergio Casci has not only presented this interesting premise, he’s created believable and likable characters. Lefervre, True Blood’s Stephen Moyer, Luis Guzman (Boogie Nights) and the rest of the cast breathe life into their roles. They all seem like real people. Even Rose, who we barely get to see, comes to life when played by Lorna Raver (Sylvia Ganush herself from Drag Me to Hell). She’s even scarier here than in Raimi’s film, and let’s not forget the director, Matthew Parkhill. He handles the film with a sure hand and he never falters. I believe he’s a talent worth watching out for.

This thrill ride of a film had me sitting on the edge of my seat ‘til ending. An ending that is both triumphant and tragic.–Charles T. Cochran

Rating: 4 out of 5

Silent House (2011)–review

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Three family members are cleaning up a summer home before it is to be sold.  Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene), her father John (Adam Trese, Zodiac), and her Uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens, As the World Turns) make up this team. As Peter leaves to run an errand, John gets on his daughter to do a better job than she’s been doing. A crash and a large strike on the wall from the room her father went into sends Sarah to investigate. She finds her father bloodied on the floor but not dead; just unconscious. She is unable to leave the house for all the doors are locked from the inside and she is without a key. She also becomes aware that there’s someone else in the house. After some toil, Sarah makes it out of the house and down the road. Here she spots a young girl just before being hit by her uncle’s vehicle. The little girl then seems have disappeared. Peter makes it back into the house as Sarah stays in the car. This is until someone tries to grab her there. Both Sarah and Peter discover that John is now missing. Saying more would give too much away.

Of course, that bit up top makes it sound like a home invasion flick. But, during the course of the film I wasn’t sure if it was that or something supernatural. Directors, Chris Kentis and Laura Lau (Open Water) maintain a somewhat level balance of things between the different possibilities. At one point things lean heavily toward one over the other; but later the rug is pulled out from under you. Silent House is a well-executed mystery that moves at a breakneck pace. And, it has a very satisfying ending.

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Silent House is a remake of a film from Uruguay called La casa muda. I’ve yet to see the original so I can’t say anything in regards to it. But, it’s my understanding that both films use a technique that make the film appear to be shot with one continuous take. I was going into the film believing this would be nothing more than a gimmick. But, Kentis and Lau use it as a tool to describe to the audience Sarah’s altered perceptions during the whole ordeal. The limited viewpoint with the one camera and a heavy use of extremes in focus are rather successful in maintaining an off-kilter feel. The choreography of actors (mostly Olsen) and the camera was so well done that  there seemed to be no misstep.

Even though both Trese and Stevens do very well with their respective parts, the show really belongs to Elizabeth Olsen. She’s on camera all of the time. She plays a believable mature young woman that witnesses horrible things and is trying to survive and escape. After this performance, along with the one she gave in Martha Marcy May Marlene, I do believe we have a true talent here with Miss Olsen.–Charles T. Cochran

Rating: 4 out of 5