The ending doesn't get any better second time around
The Call Blu-ray Review
Taking its high concept premise and running with it, The Call excels as a piece of tense, thrilling low-budget filmmaking, rollicking along for a good hour or so before going totally off the rails in the final act, leaving you with a very unpleasant taste in your mouth by the time the credits roll.Its premise – in the midst of a kidnap, Abigail Breslin’s screaming teen calls Halle Berry’s veteran 9-11 operator for help – is a strong one, and would have undoubtedly made for a very interesting TV series, for which this was originally going to be the pilot episode. The crazy buzz of the aptly nicknamed ‘Hive’ is a frenzy of cat-stuck-in-the-tree calls interspliced with bloody accidents and, occasionally, crimes-in-progress, and the genuine sense of loss and damage done by mistakes on the job – and simply listening to somebody’s last dying words, whilst helpless on the other end of the line – is undeniably compelling.Despite the unavoidable distance between Berry’s operator and the crime in question, The Machinist director Brad Anderson maintains tension through allowing the interactions of the characters to become ever more proactive, the operator forever guiding the victim on how to survive and hopefully escape this ordeal. It’s a clever idea, and it works surprisingly well, but what would have made for an interesting TV series premise is rushed to conclusion all too abruptly, spinning underdeveloped characters off into unexpected directions, taking them into increasingly improbable territory, and providing an 11th hour twist which jars and sticks in your craw.
The Call Blu-ray Picture QualityThere’s no hesitation in recommending The Call’s video presentation, a largely excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded video rendition in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Promoting the movie’s generally impressive digital photography in the best possible light, we get stunning detail which shows up every fine nuance on the various faces, palpably rich clothing weaves and suitably atmospheric background textures. All this with almost no signs of digital defects; no sign of any overt excess DNR, edge enhancement, banding or blocking.
The Call comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray complete with the same video and audio presentations as adorned its US counterpart.
The colour scheme is rich and broad, reflecting the cooler, more high-functioning-machine-style interior of The Hive versus the fast-moving highways and bustling malls. Skin tones are rich and authentic, blood is deep and realistic, and the only minor quibble would be in respect of the black levels, which aren’t quite as solid and impenetrable as you might have liked, preventing this video presentation from achieving a perfect-10 but leaving it pretty damn close.
The Call Blu-ray Sound qualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is somehow just as impressive, despite the relative lack of bombast on offer, promoting every last element in the best possible fashion, and crafting from it an almost consistently engaging soundscape which manages to equal parts engulf and impress. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, largely dominating the frontal array where appropriate, and more than content to ride high above the rest of the track.
Whatever reservations you might have about the movie, the video and audio presentations are unquestionably excellent.
Effects are myriad, ranging from wailing sirens to vicious, potentially fatal blows; with screeching tyres, smashing glass, ringing phones and other such typical-for-this-subject-matter fare coming your way. They spread the breadth of your living room, occasionally igniting the surrounds, but always prepared to keep them chirping along, and similarly bringing the LFE channel into the mix. The score, however generic, does a similarly solid job, and gets the same kind of widespread presentation across the array.
The Call Blu-ray ExtrasOddly, this is the one area where the UK disc appears to be significantly different from the US counterpart, merely porting over a couple of minor Featurettes and a selection of Deleted and Extended Scenes (including the Alternate Ending which doesn’t change or improve the ultimate outcome, but at least doesn’t feel as abrupt). What about the Commentary? Featuring the Director, the two lead actresses, the Writer and a couple of the Producers, its absence does not go unnoticed.
Is The Call Blu-ray Worth BuyingThe Call is a smart bit of low-budget filmmaking, a tense thriller which is ultimately utterly ruined by its rather rushed and out-of-character ending.
This Region Free UK release maintains the same standard of excellent video and audio set by the preceding US counterpart, but fails massively on the Extras front, leaving only fans limited by Region locking compelled to make this the version they pick up. Those otherwise interested should definitely consider a rental first to see if they can stomach the disappointing ending. It really will make or break the whole film for you.
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