Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
4K UHD
International DVDs
In Theaters
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Savant
Horror DVDs
The M.O.D. Squad
Art House
HD Talk
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

Columns




Calling, The

Sony Pictures // R // September 23, 2014
List Price: $26.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted October 7, 2014 | E-mail the Author


http-equiv="content-type">
The Calling DVD Review


The Calling is a "spiritual" horror film
from director Jason Stone and writer Scott Abramovitch. Starring Susan
Sarandon, Gil Bellows, Ellen Burstyn, Topher Grace, and Donald
Sutherland, The
Calling
seeks to be a suspenseful and thought-provoking thriller
but it is
a massive misfire that's ambitions completely falter under the weight
of it's
ridiculous storytelling.  Based upon the
novel by Inger Ash Wolfe, it aims to be about a 'higher calling' but
everything
in the film falls short, trips abundantly, and stumbles around before
it falls
off a metaphorical movie-making cliff.


Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef (Susan
Sarandon) begins
the film as a fairly quiet person who lives with relative ease with her
mother
(Ellen Burstyn) and has no major problems to deal with as Detective
Inspector
in her quietly peaceful small town. That peace and quiet is interrupted
drastically when a dead body is discovered and with gruesome
inflictions on the
body. She quickly realizes that the town could be dealing with a
psychotic
serial killer and brings in reinforcement with partner Detective Ray
Green (Gil
Bellows) helping to figure out the mysterious murder. Before long, more
murders
begin to pile up in town and worldwide. Transferring into the ranks of
the
small Canadian area is Ben Wingate (Topher Grace), unknowingly finding
himself
involved in a big case and the mystery of these killings. 


The plot of the story sounds typical of a
murder-mystery
thriller as so many productions have similar conceptual plot
concoctions. Yet
this film has a much higher quotient of generic and conventional
directions
taken during the course of the story. The film is quick to introduce a
mysterious and creepy character. The eerie character Simon (Christopher
Heyerdahl) goes into a cafe around 5 AM in the morning when no one else
is
there but a lone waitress and sits solemnly, creepily, and mysteriously
by
himself.


Soon Simon finds himself talking to the waitress
and a
discussion ensues about what line of work he is in. He describes
himself as
some kind of doctor -- of a sort. It's all creepily done as if he is
reading dialogue
at a snail's pace that is not even remotely normal so one can't help
but wonder
why the waitress even approached this creepy character. As the
discussion
unfolds one starts to think this is the serial killer in the story. But
that
couldn't be the case, could it? The character is the only one
established as a
possibility and the film has barely begun. Yet this
paint-by-the-numbers
picture does exactly that and makes the only character throughout the
entire
film portrayed as a potential killer being the one character that is.
For a
film that is supposed to somehow work as a thriller (and with
undertones of
wanting to be a mystery), this baffles. Filmmaking conventions are
flat-out
ignored for a story that somehow goes from its own bizarrely done point
A to B
to C.  


A larger issue with the film is the downright
offensive
religious undertones. The conclusion of the movie seems to be meant to
spark 'Christian
debate' or talks on faith -- suggesting the serial killer was doing the
bidding
of god in killing a mass group of people to help 'save' and resurrect
one dead
savior meant to bring everyone salvation - and that the deaths were
actually
'sacrifices' made by those killed by the serial killer. Seriously?
That is
so hackneyed that even if the movie had managed to have other good
filmmaking
attributes (which, incidentally, it doesn't manage) the whole thing
would have
felt like a waste of time. In retrospect, I suppose it 's unsurprising
given
that it's promotional tagline reads 'Thou Shalt Not Kill Unless to
Deliver
Eternal Life'. Who knew plot-wise it would actually try and follow that
tagline, though. 


There's also the fact that the serial killer in
the film is
giving 'clues' for them to pick up on so the detectives can discover
the story
about the biblical saying being a part of the killings going on. Yet it
turns
out all of the characters were poisoned to death and the only other
'issue' for
these characters finding ascension is to have a few biblical words said
that
relate to the prophecy. So, um, exactly why was the serial killer
grotesquely
messing up dead individuals even though the film suggests this deranged
killer
was somehow actually 'helping' humanity by raising the dead? The script
is
simply sub-par on every level. Such a poorly done concept would have
been more
than enough for a bad grade write-up, but then the film had to go and
make it
even less logical and more irritating.


If one actually feels like analyzing the
production merits
it's clear this was a substantially low production budget that didn't
go a long
way. The film's cast consists of the lead actors and a handful of
extras. The
film even runs into story issues because of this attribute when Grace's
character finds himself in trouble in one suspenseful scene. The
character is
on the phone; a conversation between Hazel and Ray. The two bicker for
several
minutes on whether or not calling backup is needed for their new
transfer. It feels
like this scene played out without the backup coming simply because the
production budget couldn't allot it. Most of the film does manage to
feel quite
similar as too many sequences play out with extended car trips, quietly
extended sit-downs, and other moments which feel like intended 'filler'
to make
the film be longer. (Because every less than two hour long film needs
to feel
like it was looking to add needless coverage shots and extended scenes
of
characters going from one location to the following location).style="">  With terrible direction, an equally bad
screenplay, odd pacing, and a noticeably low budget The Calling
just
doesn't find a way to work. It's not a good enough production.


Some of the best and worst horror films of all
time have had
a biblical aspect to the storytelling. The Exorcist, for
example, is one
of the most effective examples of spiritual horror filmmaking. The
territory
seems so common for many productions in the genre and an almost
never-ending
array of productions happen with some kind of mystical or spiritual
element
being a huge part. The Calling joins the ranks of these such
productions
and I am dismayed to say it is one of the worst films I have seen in
the past
year if not one of the worst films I have ever seen... period.
Absolutely
everything about the plot-line feels like a phoned in attempt at making
a
religious conversational film with an ending meant to 'shock' the
audience but
in a 'twisty' way. Yet it ultimately ends in such a predictable and
annoying
manner and with a pseudo-religious idea insultingly tossed into the mix
it
makes this one of the more irritating storylines in any film released
in 2014. The
Calling
has part of its message right in the title: that the events
are an
effect of some form of spiritual calling. Yet the film doesn't even
seem to
want to have any genuinely smart conversations on the nature of
spirituality
and with its ridiculous storyline maneuvers the entire production
completely falls
apart.


The DVD:





Video:


The Calling style="">arrives on DVD with a presentation preserving
the 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio. The film has a fine
presentation
quality that has good color reproduction and a reasonable level of
detail and
clarity. There are no issues to report as to poor compression artifacts
and
other possible detriments. The image is altogether fairly impressive
and is an
acceptable release for a modern day production on DVD.


Audio:


The included audio has a clean and modern sound
quality that
offers good dialogue reproduction. The 5.1 surround sound mix might as
well be
called a 2.0 stereo presentation, though. The film's sound field is
surprisingly sparse and uninvolving for a thriller and the film rarely
even has
any music accompanying it's sparsely dialogued production. Altogether, The
Calling
is quiet and is certainly not something with a standout
presentation. Yet it is entirely serviceable at dialogue reproduction
and is a
serviceable audio presentation.


Additional audio options present on the DVD
include:
Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai. Subtitles have been provided in English
SDH (for
the deaf and hard of hearing), Chinese (Traditional), Korean,
Portuguese,
Spanish, English, and Thai.





Extras:


 


The Making of
The Calling
(16 min.) features interviews with the screenwriter,
director,
and actors from the film discussing it's production as an independent
film and
the process of the behind-the-scenes efforts.


Final Thoughts:


The Calling is one of the worst films I
have ever
seen. The fact it involves Susan Sarandon, Ellen Burstyn, Topher Grace,
and
Donald Sutherland is baffling. There are so many talented actors in
this movie.
In no way, shape, or form is this a good movie though. It tells it's
story with
horrible writing, bad direction, and poor production merits. The
biggest issue
is that the story it tells is just plain terrible and insulting. Who
wants to
see a movie about a serial killer who is also supposed to be bringing
back a
savior for all of our salvations by meeting some sort of serial killer
quotient
for a mystical old prophecy to be fulfilled? That is The Calling
in a
nutshell. This movie is terrible and should be skipped altogether for
it's
terrible pseudo-religious cringe-worthy storytelling. The poor
production
merits following that stage is just the icing on the poorly-baked cake.


Skip It.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

Buy from Amazon.com

C O N T E N T

V I D E O

A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Skip It

E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Popular Reviews
1. Spawn of the North
2. Cary Grant Collection
3. Clockwise
4. A Different Story


Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links