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Film / The Call

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The Call is a 2013 American thriller film from WWE Studios, directed by Brad Anderson and starring Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin.

9-1-1 operator Jordan Turner (Berry) takes a call from Leah, a terrified teenage girl in a house with an intruder. Despite her best efforts to save her, the girl is kidnapped and later found dead, and Jordan is unable to continue in the job.

Six months later, Jordan is now an instructor to new recruits; when a neophyte operator receives a distress call from Casey (Breslin), another teenage girl who's been abducted while leaving a mall, Jordan replaces the flustered newbie. It soon becomes a race against the clock to track down and save Casey, especially when Jordan realizes that the abductor (Michael Eklund) is the same man who killed the first girl...

The biggest hit to date from WWE Studios. And although there is a wrestler in the cast (David Otunga), he plays a supporting role as the partner of Jordan's cop boyfriend (Morris Chestnut).

This film provides examples of:

  • Apathetic Citizens: Averted. Everyone who notices something amiss tries to do something to save Casey, even though it gets one of them killed and another seriously injured for their trouble.
  • Badass Bystander:
    • The soccer mom who, upon recognizing Casey waving out of the hole in the trunk, calls 911 and spends a while following and describing the car for them before losing them at a turn.
    • Juan the gas station attendant, who upon realizing that Michael is a kidnapper, briefly attempts to stop him while armed with just a box cutter.
  • Batman Gambit: In order to save Leah, Jordan orders her to drop her flip-flops down her room's window and hide under the bed, thus making it look like she escaped the house off the window and discarded them to run faster barefoot. It actually works and gets the killer to leave... until Jordan unfortunately calls Leah again, attracting him with the noise.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Casey winds up with a puffy cheek and the beginnings of a black eye, and a long and bloody incision on her forehead after Michael tries to scalp her.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Jordan hitting Michael over the head before he could finish scalping Casey.
  • Bottle Movie: Aside from a 10-15 minute prologue, the majority of the movie takes place over one day (and six months after said prologue).
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Heavily implied. Michael loved his sister ...a bit too much. If not a physical relationship, the feelings are definitely there.
  • Creepy Crossdresser:The killer's modus operandi is to mutilate women and take their body parts to create wigs and dresses. While he doesn't have time to dress up in women's clothes in the film, he begins the torture by playing "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club, fronted by famous crossdresser Boy George.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Toward the finale, Casey does a lot of the work rescuing herself, after her would-be rescuer Jordan needs to be rescued too.
  • Death by Irony: Michael will likely die the same way his cancer-stricken sister whom he obsessed over did, by rotting away in a stationary position, unable to do anything.
  • Distant Prologue: It takes place 6 months before the bulk of the movie.
  • Distress Call: The whole movie is based around Casey's 9-1-1 call.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Michael's reaction to meeting Jordan face to face.
  • Fakeout Escape: Attempted by Leah thanks to Jordan's instructions—she hides under the bed in her room while leaving the French doors open, making her would-be attacker think that she's managed to flee. Unfortunately, when Jordan calls her back, he hears the phone and realizes she's still in the house.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: As Casey and Autumn walk through the mall, they pass a man who appears to be eyeing a window display. The emphasis is on the word "appears", because on closer inspection, the viewer realizes that it's Michael.
  • Hate Sink: The movie goes to great lengths to prove what a psychotic, disgusting, and perverted animal Michael Foster is, making it very hard to sympathize with him after Jordan and Casey leave him tied up in his basement with no means of escape or rescue.
  • Heroic BSoD: Jordan, after making an error that leads to Leah's abduction and murder. Afterwards, she limits herself to training new recruits rather than handling phone calls.
  • Ironic Echo: 911 Operator Jordan (Halle Berry) is twice told by the Big Bad "It's already done." when she begs him on the phone not to torture and kill the victim he just took the phone away from. At the end of the movie, Jordan and his latest kidnap victim Casey (Abigail Breslin) duct tape him to a chair in his secret underground torture dungeon. When he begs them not to leave him there to die, Jordan says, "It's already done" just before she slams the door on him.
  • Man on Fire: A particularly disturbing example where Michael soaks the gas station attendant who tries to rescue Casey in gasoline, before lighting him on fire and leaving him to burn.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: Several shots of Casey as she roams through the mall.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Casey and Jordan's decision to lock up Michael, chained up and incapacitated, in his own basement until his eventual death instead of letting the authorities take him alive can be seen as this.
  • Plot-Sensitive Items: When Jordan arrives at the place where Casey is being held, her phone appears to have no service. However, when the former rescues the latter at that very spot, she attempts to call 9-1-1, as if she now has cellular service. Additionally, the former drops her phone into an underground murder lair. Cell phones don't work well underground.
  • Punk in the Trunk: Casey spends the majority of the film locked up in Michael's car trunk.
  • Precision F-Strike: MOTHERFUCKER!!!
  • Shout-Out: Casey's favorite movie is Bridesmaids. Jordan says that she loves it and that she thinks she saw it about 100 times (although she might be just playing along in order to comfort her).
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Michael targets Leah and Casey, who are both blondes. It's revealed that this has to do with his fixation on his dead sister, who had blonde hair and lost it due to chemotherapy.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Puttin on the Ritz" playing on the car radio as Casey wakes up in the trunk. Plus, Michael bopping along to it like a normal guy rather than a psycho. Much of the nice songs playing on the car radio throughout the movie fall under this, in fact "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club is also featured while Casey is getting prepped in Michael's lair where he scalps the victims. The upbeat harmonica in contrast with the fear in Casey's eyes as well as the setting is extremely jarring.
  • That One Case: Technically, her failure to save Leah Templeton (the first girl) is this for Jordan, as it drove her to quit taking 9-1-1 calls and ultimately leads her to track down Michael by herself in the final act.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The driver Alan Denado (Michael Imperioli) who noticed the white paint leaking from Micheal's car. It's bad enough that he followed Michael to an area with no people around. He also pulled out his cell in clear view where Michael can see him. And if that wasn't bad enough, after getting knocked out and waking up in the trunk of the car, he screams like crazy which sealed his fate. Strike three.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Jordan.
    • Also Casey, who went from a girl teased by her friend for not using profanity, to a "fighter" who comes up with the idea to lock Michael in his underground lair forever.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer basically gave the entire plot of the movie: Jordan messes up and so a girl dies because of her actions, another girl is kidnapped, they figure out it's the same kidnapper, a dude gets set on fire trying to help the victim, and then Jordan gets involved besides running the phone.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's mentioned that the attack on the gas station attendant was classified as an assault, and not a homicide, when Jordan is being informed of it, although given his wounds, he may have died.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Michael beats Leah unconscious when kidnapping her and, after setting the gas station attendant on fire, punches Casey in the face to knock her out.