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

GUT-movie review

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gut

As the opening credits run across the screen before the image fades from black we can hear the sounds of grunts. It could easily be the sound of sex as it’s performed. But, as the image is revealed we see Tom (Jason Vail, Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies), the lead character of Gut, shirt bloodied, holding someone down on the floor off camera. There’s struggling, as you might expect. And then the scene cuts short, flashing back to an earlier time, which soon leads to the moment of brutality.
This is where we are properly introduced to Tom, a seemingly happy family man. He has a lovely wife and cute as a button little daughter. Tom works in an office seated next to his longtime best friend, Dan (newcomer, Nicholas Wilder). Dan is single, living on his own and still obsessively watching horror movies. A past time that Tom seems to want to outgrow.
When Tom brushes Dan’s invite to hang out and watch a shared favorite horror flick, Dan’s jealously of Tom’s wife and daughter become obvious. To make matters worse, Dan finds out that Tom plans on quitting his job and moving his family out of the area. A fact Tom was keeping from his friend. Dan’s response is much like a jilted lover.
After these incidents, there seems to be a change in Tom: he lies when he can’t climax during sex with his wife; and his mood seems dark much of the time.
After some awkwardness between them, Tom agrees to check out an underground horror movie Dan procured from a website. The movie seems to only be a single shot of a woman’s belly as it is sliced open. After which, a hand is pushed in and out of the wound in a sort of brutal mockery of a sexual act. Upon seeing this, Tom storms out of Dan’s apartment apparently offended. But, late that night Tom masturbates thinking of a similar scenario beside his sleeping wife.
At this point, Tom’s moodiness becomes increasingly darker as he starts to obsess over the movies Dan supplies from the original source. He even goes so far as sneaking off to watch them late at night while his family lies sleeping. Dan, on the other hand, is brighter of mood and becomes outgoing. He even gains the waitress at the pair’s favorite lunchtime location as his girlfriend. Things look up for Dan, as things grow dark for Tom.
There’s been a boom in outstanding horror films in the independent film community recently with titles such as Absentia, The Pact, and Excision. Sorry to say Gut doesn’t live up to this new wave of quality horrors. After two acts that had me excited that we had another winner, the third seems to lose stream and leads to an ending that is lackluster, simple, and rather uninspired. In fact, this third act and ending revealed to me that the first two acts weren’t as interesting as I originally thought. Complexities that I thought were there had been placed there by me and not the filmmakers.
One thing that could be said at this point is that the director simply known as Elias does have talent in creating suspense, even if it doesn’t lead to much. I think he does have a future, but he shouldn’t view Gut as a bright spot on his resume.

Film Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)

–Charles T. Cochran