A Mysterious, Suspenseful Thriller
Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon shows off her impressive acting chops in two films opening on August 29: The Calling and The Last of Robin Hood. Although portraying very different characters in these intriguing offerings, she makes us believe both women are real and worth watching. The latter movie features Sarandon as the fame-obsessed mother of Errol Flynn’s last mistress, her teenage daughter. The Calling stars Sarandon as a world-weary detective trying to catch a serial killer. Is it surprising that the talented actress delivers convincing performances in both difficult roles? Not to me. I’ve watched Sarandon throughout her career and have rarely been disappointed with her work.
Detective Hazel Micallef (Sarandon) is in charge of law and order in Fort Dundee, a sleepy little town where not much happens. But all that changes when Hazel and her fellow detectives Ray Green (Gil Bellows) and newby Ben Wingate (Topher Grace) begin investigating a series of gruesome murders. There’s something very strange about the look of each victim. Have their faces been manipulated to get a certain look? If so, why? Those questions form the heart of this mysterious thriller and end up thrusting the detectives into a dangerous quest involving -- of all things -- ancient holy writings. An enigmatic suspect (Christopher Heyerdahl) adds to the suspense as does one of the religious experts (Donald Sutherland) helping with this unusual case.
From the very first scene, we see how cynicism has become Hazel’s usual attitude. She relies on alcohol too much and doesn’t seem interested in the people around her. Her worried mother Emily (the wonderful Ellen Burstyn) attempts to bring some cheer into her daughter’s life, but to no avail. Hazel won’t even smile when Emily teases her, “Have fun with your corpses!” The mother/daughter relationship depicted here comes across as one of the film’s highlights to me. It’s obvious how much they care for each other. And yet, Hazel can’t seem to appreciate Emily’s thoughtful actions. Will solving the serial murder case do the trick?
David Robert Jones’ (Answers to Nothing) cinematography captures the generally dark mood of The Calling, and Mark Petrie’s (Side Effects) eerie, ominous music sets just the right tone to match the disturbing things happening on screen.
As directed by Jason Stone (This Is the End) -- from Scott Abramovitch’s screenplay adaptation of Inger Ash Wolfe’s novel -- The Calling earns my highest recommendation, especially for mystery fans.
(Released by Vertical Entertainment and rated “R” for violent content, disturbing images and some language.)
For more information about The Calling, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.