AUGUST 10, 2007
Netflix had me thinking A Dead Calling was some sort of rare gem. It found its way to the top of my queue, but was a 'short wait'. Finally I got an email saying that it would be sent from El Paso, TX because that was the closest one to Sherman Oaks, CA that had it in stock. A week after the estimated arrival date, it STILL hadn't come, so I reported it lost and another was sent out. "Wow, this movie must be amazing, no one wants to part with it!" I said. "What the hell are you talking about?" my wife replied.
Well as it turns out, maybe no one is returning the movie because they tore it from their DVD player and broke it in half to prevent anyone else from suffering through it.
Dead Calling is one of those movies where it's painfully obvious that the writer/director/producer had a small window of opportunity to use some minor 'celebrity' stars (in this case, the non-Sheri Moon members of the Firefly clan from Rob Zombie's Devil's Rejects), a location or two, and his buddy's video camera; and rather than wait for better conditions/actors, he went with it and hoped for the best. Sadly, the best the movie achieves is being better than... well, Dark Fields/Ride/Harvest. Congrats.
Ineptitude and laziness are the order of the day: from the constant sight of palm trees (this supposedly takes place in New York), the never moving camerawork, the fact that both the police station and the newspaper office are obviously the same building, glaring continuity errors (a guy gets stabbed in the back and then appears without any wound in the next shot), etc. There's also a last minute attempt to add some action to the film (a quick scene of two random punk kids who break down by the side of the road and are suddenly run over by the killer), which is even stupider when you consider all the nighttime footage in the film looks atrocious due to the poor digital video capabilities.
There's also a bizarre surplus of loose ends - the film begins with a masked man killing the lead's (Alexandra Holden) boyfriend. If you pay attention (or watch the film a 2nd time, you sadist), you'll know that it's the killer from the rest of the movie, but he never mentions it to her, and in fact no one mentions the poor dead guy ever again. And then at the end, Holden greets a character, and it seems like we should know who he is, but we don't. Granted, the one thing the movie DID get right was staying with Holden as much as possible, as she is ridiculously cute and thus singlehandedly kept me from shutting the movie off, so it's understandable why they wouldn't want to waste screen time on other people, but still.
Speaking of her cuteness, I got sort of weirded out about an hour into the film. I was about to jot down "Why is she so hot?" in my notes, to remind me to address the fact that we are supposed to believe that someone so who looked like THAT was spawned from Sid Haig, and literally ten seconds later we learn the character was adopted. It was like movie ESP!
There's also a character named Murken. A murken (sp?) is, as you all know, a wig made out of one's pubic hair. Always a good thing to be thinking about when watching your Bill Moseley movies.
It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the film was intended to be a TV movie. The pedestrian directing and total lack of swearing and nudity (for an R rated horror film?) aside, there was also next to zero violence and when it did occur it wasn't bloody (due to continuity errors or not, the fact remains!). There were also a lot of scenes fading to black for a second before fading up to the next one. Perhaps the director will answer my question on the commentary track, but I haven't decided whether or not to watch it yet. Is spending another 90 minutes watching Holden run around worth suffering through a commentary track where the guy is probably under the impression he made a good film? It is a question that has plagued mankind since the dawn of this morning.
UPDATE: I watched the commentary and sure enough, rather than explain all of the logic errors and what not in his film, the director just rattles on about how he is able to make a movie cheap but still make it look great (we can ignore the fact that he didn't actually achieve this at all), and comes off as another one of those assholes who care more about turning one buck into two rather than making a decent movie. You know, Troma films are essentially just excuses to make a profit too, but at least they have some charm. Assholes like this are exactly why the genre is filled to the brim with garbage. "I use this location in all of my movies." "I don't see why I should look at hundreds of auditions when I have friends who can fill these roles." No shit, that's why the movie looks like crap and is easily identifiable as soulless. I didn't even need to watch the commentary to know that. Prick.
Cool box art though. Unsurprisingly, it has nothing to do with the movie.
What say you?