The problem with high concepts in film is that they’re difficult to pull off. If you’re not clever enough, or don’t think things through, or don’t have the directorial muscle to make it all palatable, your film will be in trouble. The Caller is a prime example of this, a film with an intriguing-enough premise, but nothing else to back it up, constantly unraveling as a we get deeper and deeper into the proceedings.
The idea behind the movie is that Mary (Rachelle Lafevre, Casino Jack), a college student fresh out of an abusive relationship, has moved into a new apartment and is suddenly getting calls from Rose (Lorna Raver, Drag Me to Hell), a woman from the past. At first, Rose is simply looking for a friend, but Mary lacks the patience to deal with her. This snubbing sets off the unhinged Rose, who then terrorizes Mary from her vantage point in the past.
The idea around the kind of havoc some wacko could wreak in your past in an intriguing concept, but here it’s poorly thought out. As Rose resorts to various acts of murder and general terror, the film becomes increasingly convoluted and full of plot holes. This has always been a problem with films that trade in time travel, but The Caller fares particularly badly. Instead of a twisting cinematic Möbius strip, we end up with nothing more than a knot of unexplained contradictions. Sure, there are attempts at explaining the film’s logic in pseudoscientific terms, but these end up not making much sense within the context of the story.
The end result is a pretty hokey climax that might be one of the most far-fetched things I’ve ever seen attempted in a movie, provoked by one of cinema’s least frightening villains of all time. That lame climax is followed by a final twist that’s not at all surprising. Not because I saw it coming—I didn’t—but because it’s just so lame. All of this in a movie that mistakes ghastly fluorescent lighting and muddied colors for mood. The end result is that The Caller is a frustratingly silly movie. It gets points for trying something new, but loses them all—and more—in its execution. Rated R for some violence/disturbing images, language and a scene of sexuality.