The Calling (2014)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5

USA, 2014, , .  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Susan Sarandon plays a broken, alcoholic police chief whose inability to give a damn about her job causes little interruption of the running of affairs in her posting in Fort Dundas, Ontario.  She spends her days barely keeping it together and her nights going home to her concerned, nosy mother (Ellen Burstyn), the suggestion of a former life with child and husband likely the remnants of a tragedy she prefers to ignore.  She is forced to get herself together, however, when a local resident is murdered under gruesome circumstances that link to other killings throughout Canada.  It is possible there is a serial killer out there, but with a tiny staff that includes a green and naïve newcomer () and superiors who have no faith in her judgment, Sarandon managing to catch up with the bad guy will be tough.  Then there are the clues that keep coming in that don’t just involve murder but something ritualistic and religious, and when things start to head towards putting Sarandon and her people in danger, the tension mounts. Moody photography and a genuinely creepy villain help get us to a very exciting middle act of a film that takes too long to get going and has an anticlimactic finish.  ‘s overkill performance as the pretentiously monotone killer who is always a few steps ahead of the law is that aggravating cinema stereotype, the man who screams bad guy from miles away and makes us wonder why he isn’t arrested the minute he orders breakfast.  A little bit of sunshine or humour would do well to counterbalance all the gloom here, but it does have moments of genuine dread (what is that in the RV?!) that are worth cherishing, and the cast makes the most of the middling material.

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