The directorial debut from producer Jason Stone, the narrative centres around Hazel ‘cop with drinking problem’ Micallef, played by a faultless Susan Sarandon, whose natural ability to make almost anything a little better just about saves the film from being absolutely dire. Sarandon’s Hazel is an ageing, jaded detective in a dead-end town with very little crime to pursue. So imagine the excitement when a serial killer strikes… It’s down to Hazel and her team – made up of herself, a cynical, practical superior and a naïve, inexperienced young officer who’s just raring to go, to stop this brutal killer in his tracks. If only they could stop bickering and all agree on the most effective way to snare the sadist. Think you’ve seen this one before? You probably have.
There is almost nothing about The Calling that sets it aside from a hundreds of crime thrillers that are churned out from Hollywood year in, year out. Aside from the lack of a will they? / won’t they? romance (other than Hazel’s affair with a married local man, shoe-horned in to further ram down the viewer’s throats that Hazel is single and alone and so desperately hopeless with men), the film just plods along for all of its 108 minutes with nothing to offer aside from the odd red herring that keeps you guessing until you realise that you just don’t care.
It may sound callous perhaps, but look at the facts – serial killers are endlessly fascinating. They are people so out of control of their carnal urges, so maniacal in their thirst for gratification that they go to lengths that are unimaginable for the average person to comprehend. On top of that, regular people are fascinating. Every one of them has desires, needs, faults and intricacies. So how can a film that is asking regular people to deal with series of barbaric, brutal murders, be so boring?
The only mildly entertaining element is the decoding of the killer’s ‘signature’- the mark that he leaves to identify himself. It’s all figured out on a hunch of course, and even when the big revelation is made, it’s so laughable that you are once again pulled out of the film and back in to your seat, any possibility of immersion in the story pulled from underneath you as you realise just how ridiculous it all is. It’s a real shame that the film couldn’t be saved by Susan Sarandon alone. Her talent is the only predictable element that is enjoyable.