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THE CALLING (review)

Written by Scott Abramovitch
Directed by Jason Stone
Starring Susan Sarandon, Gil Bellows and Topher Grace

Emily: Do you like curry?

When you’ve got a cast that includes Susan Sarandon, Ellen Burstyn and Donald Sutherland, how can you go wrong? Well, there are apparently many ways, as can be seen in Jason Stone’s film, THE CALLING. When your film is promoted as a mystery/thriller, surely it has to be mysterious, right? And in not mysterious, it must at the very least be thrilling. In this case, it is actually neither.

Not much happens in the small town of Fort Dundas, Ontario. That is until a string of gruesome murders are discovered. Sarandon plays a pill-popping, alcoholic detective, Hazel Micallef, who assigns herself to the case. Along with Ben (Topher Grace), a new transfer from Toronto, Hazel follows the clues that she hopes will lead her to the murderer.

It’s pretty embarrassing that Stone and co. could screw up such an easy and overused plot. They manage to fail at crafting likeable characters, or any sliver of realism. Essentially, the film fails because it is in no way engaging. The film can’t thrill you, because the events in the film unfold so slowly over the film’s two hours. At the same time, THE CALLING cannot be considered a slow-burn mystery, as there’s nothing mysterious about it. The audience is shown who the serial killer is less than twenty-minutes into the film, so there’s nothing left for viewers to think about. We see Hazel following the right path – ever so slowly – and have to sit and wait patiently for her to get there. The first half of the film really isn’t so bad, that is until you realize that the film has nowhere else to go.


Sarandon is a great actress, and she would surely play one great detective, but that detective would at least have to be given some sort of structure for Sarandon to pull anything from it. Hazel Micallef is so very poorly written, which makes it hard to sympathize with her, or care what happens to her by the end of the film. Her alcoholism and drug addiction are present for no apparent reason other than to contribute to her tough cookie persona.

Thankfully, there is one likeable character in the film, and that is Hazel’s mother Emily, played by the great Ellen Burstyn. Maybe the reason why her character is so likeable is because she very rarely appears, and when she does it’s just to serve her daughter dinner, say a motivational line, and leave.

Sarandon fans beware. Even Susie can’t save this train wreck of a film.

1.5 sheep

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