The Caller (2011)
Directed by: Matthew Parkhill
Starring: Rachelle Lefevre, Stephen Moyer, Luis Guzmán, Ed Quinn, Lorna Raver
(out of 4)
Hello? Is it me you’re killin’ for……….
Slight Spoilers Ahead
The Caller is about a divorcee named Mary (Rachelle Lefevre), who has moved into an apartment in an effort to start her life over, but her creepy and abusive husband Steven (who has no problem breaking restraining orders) keeps coming around to harass her. Then, an old phone left inside the apartment rings, and the woman on the other end is Rose, a clearly disturbed individual but somebody intriguing enough to get Mary to continue having conversations with her. Big mistake. The movie’s conceit is that this phone is really some kind of communications link to the past (1979, to be exact) and Rose proves that things she does in the past has instantaneous changes in Mary’s present. This becomes a problem when Rose gets pissed off and decides to start killing people close to Mary, which leads to them being erased from existence, but with Mary somehow retaining the memories of them anyway. This also spells trouble for Mary’s new boyfriend (Stephen Moyer), who naturally worries about her crazy ex (Ed Quinn), but disregards the crazy phone lady to his own detriment. That, and the fact that the pipes in the wall of the universe have somehow sprung leaks and God doesn’t even have the decency to call a plumber.
Huge roach in bathroom. I’ll get it…
It’s apparent that The Caller is a combination of Back to the Future and Frequency (and Timecop and a few episodes of Star Trek/Quantum Leap, etc). There’s no explanation of the magical time phone so you just have to accept it as a plot device; in addition, you shouldn’t ask questions about why Mary doesn’t lock her doors properly, buy a gun to protect herself from her psycho husband, or simply throw the telephone away and use a cell phone like everybody else in the 21st century. (There’s also her bizarre decision not to call the cops, even when she finds body parts buried in the yard or bodies buried behind her wall.) But you just gotta let that go – this film is really about a weak woman who, through the course of some horrible events, becomes strong enough to fight her ex and take charge of her life. (It’s like a sci-fi geek got hold of the script to Sleeping With the Enemy). Rose and Steven represent the same thing in Mary’s life – here’s a girl who gets away from one abusive relationship and walks right into another one.
Smart phones are only a fad. The rotary is coming back.
In truth there are some disturbing scenes in The Caller, most notably the one where Rose decides to kidnap Mary as a little girl and spill boiling water on her, causing burn scars to instantly appear on Mary in the present. Mary’s tune changes real quick and she cries on the phone to Rose, begging her for forgiveness – a performance one expects she has given before in her previous marriage. There’s also something inherently scary in the idea that you are at the mercy of somebody who can harm you from afar and you have no recourse. To say that Rose has a God complex isn’t as disturbing as the idea that in a way she really is God, able to create new realities at will. Director Matthew Parkhill also fills Mary’s world with a kind of dread; people look at her menacingly, as if the whole world is a danger to her. The Caller won’t win any awards for originality or logic (seriously, just change your freakin’ phone number, girl!) but for most of the time it’s a solid enough thriller about a woman’s empowerment, and maybe also, about how violence and betrayal affect lives in ways that can’t be erased.
– Bill Gordon
If you’d like to make a kill, please hang up and try again.