is hard to say which are dumber in this non-mystery: the Christians who
willingly sacrifice themselves in rituals that violate nearly every tenet of
their faith or the Keystone cops who spend more time chasing their tails than
the only suspect we ever see. At least, Detective Hazel Micallef has the excuse
of being a pill popping drunk. Nonetheless, she is the only copper smart enough
to figure out a serial killer is on the loose in Jason Stone’s logically
challenged The Calling (trailer here), opening this
Friday in select theaters.
lives with her mother, drinks too much, and openly carries on with a married man
in the small Canadian town of Fort Dundas (perhaps that should be Fort
Dunderhead). She is currently the town’s acting police chief by virtue of
seniority, but her position is tenuous at best. However, when one of her mother’s
church cronies is decapitated, Micallef’s atrophied intuition says it must be
the work of a serial killer.
the help of her long suffering deputy and a green transfer from Toronto, she
identifies similar facial manipulations in other bodies just outside her
jurisdiction. For some reason, she seeks the counsel of Father Price, who
immediately confirms each victim’s mouth has been molded to form part of a long
forgotten early Christian sacrificial-reincarnation prayer. Gee, that’s not
suspiciously convenient at all.
course, about ten seconds later we learn the good Father is indeed well acquainted
with the killer. While he is morally conflicted (because Donald Sutherland
could not possibly play an out-and-out bad guy in a Susan Sarandon movie), he
still acquiesces to the mysterious Simon’s dubious scheme.
The Calling is based on the
first of three Micallef mystery novels written by Michael Redhill under the
Inger Ash Wolfe pseudonym. However, there is not much mystery in the film and
common sense is also scarce as hen’s teeth. On paper, the Micallef character
sounds promising, but Sarandon is the wrong person for the role. Instead of
embracing her degenerate nature, she plays her like some sort of martyr, trying
to be a hard drinking Sister Helen Prejean with a badge.
Gil Bellows is the new go-to-guy whenever a casting agent needs a small town
deputy, but he provides a much needed sense of stability for the ludicrous
plot. As Father Price, Sutherland manages to say some ridiculous lines with a
straight face. Sarandon’s fellow Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn must have owed one
of the producers a big favor, because she has absolutely nothing interesting to
do as Micallef’s mother. Regardless, she appears natural and credible in all
her scenes, unlike the awkward looking Topher Grace, sticking out like a sore
thumb as the freshly re-assigned Ben Wingate. However, Christopher Heyerdahl
brings real presence and a bit of ambiguity as Simon, the symbolically loaded
Ill conceived and executed in a manner that
minimizes any potential suspense, The
Calling just doesn’t have much going on. Clearly, Scott Abramovitch’s
screenplay fancies itself some sort of Bill Maher critique of faith-before-reason
Christianity, but its defining characteristic is its blandness. Not
recommended, it opens this Friday (8/29) in select cities.
Labels: Canadian Cinema, Donald Sutherland, Religion in film, Serial killer movies