The Calling (2000)

JULY 27, 2010


Why do so many of these Antichrist type movies focus on the mother? If you look over the scope of (d)evil child movies, the vast majority has the mother in the “oh no my child isn’t right” role, with the dad often being a villain or killed off. I mean, Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen were both huge hits, right? Why is Joshua seemingly the only one that followed Omen’s lead and told the story from the dad’s POV? Anyway, The Calling* is all about the mom, and it’s unfortunate that I just watched Blessed a short while ago, as this is pretty much the same goddamn movie, only with more kills (yay!), a far more appealing lead (Laura Harris over Heather Graham), and a condensed running time that gets shit done in 10 fewer minutes.

Actually, they might have tried to stretch this one a bit, as one of my problems is that it often felt like I was watching a sequel and they were trying to bring me up to speed. The first 20 minutes in particular is a non-stop flurry of voiceover and montage, which is a terrible way to start a film off. I’m never a fan of starting a horror movie off in the present and showing the rest of the movie as a flashback (thus the character survives every danger she encounters), but here it’s even more damaging, because these opening scenes (her wedding night, the birth of the child, etc) are far more important than most of the stuff that comes after (i.e. the stuff they take their time with).

It’s also one of those movies where they try to make it seem like our heroine might just be crazy, but it doesn’t work in the slightest because we know that something is wrong, as people commit suicide right in front of them and the kid impales a guinea pig (and later tries to hang his dog). But for some reason even the character plays along! At one point she walks in and sees her husband kissing another woman (Alice Krige, who was pretty damn hot in the 80s and early 90s, but come on – no man would cheat on Harris with her unless there was some sort of devilry afoot), and she doesn’t even ask them what the fuck is up, because she’s too busy buying their explanation that she’s forgetful.

But it’s not too bad, as these things go. Sure, it steals from Rosemary AND The Omen, but it’s still decent cable entertainment. I particularly like what an evil bastard the kid is, playing Doom (or a ripoff of it) and not caring after a close family friend dies, kicking the dog for no reason, etc. He also talks backwards, which is never a good sign (even though I used to do it – Snilloc Nairb would be my Star Wars character, if I ever had one). And maybe it was just for time constraints or something, but I liked that Krige wasted no time trying to force her out of the kid’s life. I just wish Harris’ character was as quick to figure shit out.

I was also a bit amused by the fake Bruckheimer score. Throughout several of the montages and “action” sequences, composer Christopher Franke (who would go on to compose Brucky’s TV show The Amazing Race) would offer these Hans Zimmer/Trevor Rabin-y cues that wouldn’t seem out of place accompanying Nic Cage outrunning a fireball or something. The end credits also offered a non-“Save Me” offering from Remy Zero, a band I really dug that has sadly gone the day of the dodo (I blame Smallville).

But back to what I was saying earlier – why can’t we have more from the dad’s point of view? I get that it’s more upsetting for a mother to have to face the fact that the child that was inside of her is so evil, but it just seems like there’s more room to explore from the male perspective, as the mom angle has been done to death. Also, men are easier to seduce to the dark side (in movies anyway), so they can toy with the idea that the dad is actually sort of into the whole Antichrist thing, as opposed to the mothers, who always try to do the right thing (which never works). Or how about an older sibling? One who DIDN’T get to be the antichrist, and is thus trying to save his/her parents, but is also a little jealous?

One thing is clear though – we need to lay off the name “Chris” or “Christine” for religious horror movies. Yes, clever – it’s a play off of Christ. But it’s also going to just keep reminding folks of The Exorcist, and also in some cases (mine especially) End of Days, both of which are superior to this film. Hell, the guy who keeps saying “Christine” is Irish, just like Gabriel Byrne in the latter film, so every time he said it, I kept expecting Arnold to start shooting dudes and saying “You a CHOIR BOY compared to me!!” How about Susan? Susan is a nice name.

I want to note that I was originally watching something called Danika, which IS about a woman cracking up (from what I gathered from the plot synopsis offered by On Demand), but I had to stop it due to the fact that it was a 2.35:1 scope movie cropped down to 1.33:1. Look, the last time I checked at Best Buy, they don’t even SELL standard sized TV screens anymore. I think we need to stop with the cropping. Especially for scope films – I tried for about 5 minutes, but then there was a scene where Danika (Marisa Tomei) is at her desk and her boss comes over, and all I could see was Tomei’s bangs and one of her arms, and about half of her boss. And a lot of dead space between them. We’ve been a DVD (and thus, primarily watching widescreen or letterboxed movies) world for over a decade now – let’s fire all of those poor sods who decided to ruin movies for a living and just embrace the “black bars”, OK? Cropping is no more!! Besides, the only people who are going to dig around in their On Demand menus for unseen horror movies are people like me who actually care about proper film presentation, not Joe Average. He’s watching Jersey Shore or some shit.

What say you?

*Not, sadly, based on the band known for their power ballad “Wherever You Will Go”.

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  1. What's Up, Dude? Great review! I just want to tell you...The reason why "Danika" is cropped is because you could see the microphone throughout most of the movie. I saw it n HD on Showtime one night, and the only reason why I watched it is because I saw the mic so much [I thought it was a joke at first, but the movie was supposed to be serious]. I have no idea who the boom operator was on the film [ Or the director who didn't say anything about it, or the editor of it who thought people wouldn't notice it], but it makes watching the movie in HD Hilarious...

  2. saw this a couple of years ago on TV and it bored the shit out of me

  3. I just dont get the end of the movie. Was the priest and the mother running from the guy on the motorcycle. Or (Is there going to be a calling 2 movie, where the mother comes and get the son????????


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