Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas) leads the show as Jordan Turner, a veteran 911 operator in Los Angeles. (If anything, she should dial 911 for help with her distracting hairdo.) In the prologue, shes giving questionable advice to a girl who calls about a prowler, resulting in the teens death.
Six months later, Jordan is still on the job, but only in a training capacity ... until a frantic call from another teen girl reluctantly puts her butt back in the seat. The young woman (Abigail Breslin, Zombieland) has been abducted from a mall parking garage and currently is locked in the trunk of a moving car driven by the same killer (Michael Eklund, The Divide) from half a year prior.
He listens to Tacos "Puttin' on the Ritz" by choice, so we know somethings off with him. As it turns out, hes a total lotion-in-the-basket type. By the time we learn that in the third act, The Call enters really ridiculous territory that goes double for the coda but remains so engaging, viewers arent going to reach for the stop button. Also, its extremely awkward for Breslin, aka Little Miss Sunshine, to be romping around shirtless for so long.
The slick thriller marks a return to form for Brad Anderson, who stumbled with his previous film, Vanishing on 7th Street, after raising pulses with the likes of Session 9 and The Machinist. This could have been a strictly for-hire gig, but Anderson makes his imprint evident or at least as much edge as a major-studio picture affords him.
The Call will bring to mind similar and superior tech-driven efforts like 2004s Cellular, 2010s Buried and last years underseen Brake. All may be dated years down the line, but for now, they work in milking tension out of a simple concept.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainments Blu-ray/DVD combo release includes an alternate ending that doesnt change anything, but be sure to check Eklunds audition footage, in which he dances around a kitchen in his BVDs with a life-size doll. It leaves little question as to why he won the role. Rod Lott