'The Call' review: Warping time, revenge, and adrenaline wittily
Who doesn't like a sci-fi thriller to make 2020 count? Let's root for the end of the worst year ever with The Call. There are several films with that title, but we're talking about Netflix's November 27 offering here. The artwork resembles acutely to that of Glass and you wonder if it's a Korean rip-off. But thankfully, it isn't, as it shocks your senses.
The film starts slow, focuses on protagonist's loneliness
It's a 112 minute-long film with a sluggish start, but focuses on the emptiness of the protagonist instead. Kim Seo-Yeon's hope of saving her mother from a brain tumor is worthless, although she puts up a brave face when her mother dreams of getting herself buried with or beside her husband's grave. The grief overtakes the initial monotony as Seo-Yeon struggles to live happily.
Seo-yeon reaches her former home, loses phone on the way
She visits her parents' former home but accidentally loses her phone on the way. Suspecting that someone took it on the train she was in, Seo-Yeon finds an old cordless phone from the storeroom, dials her number to find two men demanding a reward for returning her phone. The phone rings again but someone asks for some Sun-Hee, adding her mom trapped her.
Alternate timelines in same house, finding Young-Sook from past
The Call from Oh Young-Sook returns to haunt Seo-Yeon, who keeps pleading for help and says that her stepmother plans to kill her. This puzzles Seo-Yeon, who had found the picture of a girl her age having the timestamp of 1999 recently. She confirms that the girl on the call is the same Young-Sook, and that two timelines and realities are running parallel.
Seo-Yeon gets greatest surprise ever: Help from the past
It's unbelievable to Seo-Yeon that someone staying in the same house twenty years before is contacting her through a cordless phone 'in real time'. But there's more to the time-warping sci-fi storyline, as Young-Sook finds that in her timeline, she meets a realtor named Mr Kim, whose young daughter is named Seo-Yeon. The trapped girl lets Seo-Yeon listen to her dead father, alive.
And then the two bond, but over what or whom?
If there are two people communicating through alternate timelines, the best way to strike a chord in between is to find a common point of interest. It happens to be a rock artist in The Call whose die-hard fan Young-Sook can't believe that one can watch someone's concert without being physically present. Seo-Yeon helps Young-Sook tape-record that artiste's concert on YouTube. They bond remarkably.
Deal of a lifetime: Happy family but a missed call
An impressed Young-Sook pitches the unbelievable idea of saving Seo-Yeong's father in her timeline, now that she knows how Kim died. Young-Sook's success transports Seo-Yeong from the dark present to a bright, sunny morning in the same house where she breaks down seeing her father. Her family starts living happily until Seo-Yeon misses one call from Young-Sook, and that's where director Lee Chung-hyun scores.
The performances are spot-on, our verdict: 4.5/5
Once in a blue moon do we find such an unsettling thriller. The Call shocks you all the way till the end credits and the timid, vulnerable yet maddening aura of Jeon Jong-seo, who plays Oh Young-Sook, is wholesome. You can watch The Call for the nth time and still appreciate Park Shin-hye's (Seo-Yeon) desperation. Pay attention, as the film deserves a 4.5/5.