THE FINAL (2010)
Horror flick written by Jason Kabolati and directed by Joey Stewart, tells a chilling tale about a group of high school outcasts who enact gruesome revenge on the popular crowd that tormented them. While the idea isn’t totally original and it does borrow from films like Saw and Audition, the flick is well made and the characters are human enough where the audience may find themselves conflicted when victims and victimizers trade places. Sure the popular kids are mean and cruel, but do they deserve their torment, or is this their just comeuppance? The surprising restraint in some of the nastier sequences also helps them to be more effective. Not a pleasant film, but it is well made enough to set it apart from the recent trend of torture horror and was overall much better than expected.
THE CALLER (2011)
The Caller is a spooky Twilight Zone-ish chiller about a young woman named Mary (Rachelle Lefevre), recently divorced from an abusive husband (Ed Quinn), who moves into an old apartment and starts to get strange phone calls seemingly from the past…and from a woman who is supposedly dead. The Caller establishes some spooky atmosphere despite the story having been done to different degrees before. Director Matthew Parkhill keeps the tension going by always having one of the dual threats to Mary lurking about. We are never sure what’s worse, the stalking ex or the haunting caller named Rose. Mary tries to take charge in both situations, but they slowly escalate as the calls get more threatening and so does the ex-husband…and then things really get strange. Despite the prevading creepiness, Caller’s final act doesn’t quite deliver the punch that we are hoping for. It would spoil things to discuss the climax in detail, but suffice it to say, that it will depend on your willingness to go along with where the story leads, as to how effective the last act is. For me, it precariously tipped toward the silly and while I don’t feel that it got silly, that borderline threat of becoming so, robbed some of the impact for me when the film should have been strongest. The cast perfoms their parts adequately, helping us to go along with things, for the most part. Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight) is fine as Mary, although the performance could have benefited from a wider emotional range and True Blood’s Stephen Moyer is fine, too as a potential romantic interest drawn into Mary’s drama. A decent thriller with some nice, if not derivative, chills, but falls short of being a real nail-biter. The Caller is written by Sergio Casci and is a small film with a dark look that adds to the prevailing dread.