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Calling, The


Stars: Susan Sarandon, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn, Donald Sutherland, Gil Bellows, Christopher Heyerdahl

Director: Jason Stone

A serial-killer thriller set in the snowbound wastes near Hamilton, Canada. We could almost be in Fargo territory here, with Sarandon as Hazel Micallef, an (alcoholic) acting chief of police investigating 'our first murder in four years'. This isn't anywhere near as good as Fargo, lacking the Coen Brothers' quirkiness of dialogue and character, but it will serve fans of the genre well enough; it's far-fetched, but not unenjoyable.

It's not a whodunit, however...we know who the killer is the moment they walk into frame; acting on some obscure Latin incantation, he's disposing of 12 willing souls (people seriously ill or dying) to 'bring back the one', presumably a much-abused brother, who committed suicide.

Hazel has a suicide attempt of her own on record, which explains why she's not in a more senior position; she lives with her mother (Burstyn, radiant in her early eighties), who keeps a weather eye on her daughter's consumption of whisky and pills, which she takes to relieve her acute back pain.

Corpses soon pile up, their mouths distorted to convey some kind of message, and it looks like the key to the case might lie with an elderly priest (Sutherland).

Hazel, distrusted by city superiors, but helped by a new recruit (Grace) eventually works it out...

It's good to see Sarandon, at 67 easily passing for a character who is presumably in her early fifties, in a lead role, even if the film is hardly out of the ordinary and has a slightly puzzling resolution. Other roles are all competently filled in, though the pace could do with a lift here and there. It's OK thriller fare.

David Quinlan

Canada 2013. UK Distributor: Sony. Colour by deluxe.
108 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 15 Oct 2014