You were right I was wrong, you were right… some people are better off dead
For those of my regular readers that pay attention, you may have noticed that ever since I reviewed 31 horror films in as many days in October, I haven’t actually posted a review from that genre. That month took it out of me in terms of horror films, with very few being worthwhile and it’s something which I am definitely not going to repeat again this year. That being said I thought that it was one again time to enter this genre for a review.
I was originally going to review a film called “Population 436”, but the less than interesting opening ten or so minutes left me bored, so I instead switched to another film that I had recorded from the Horror Channel, “Devil May Call”. Now, just for the sake of it being interesting, I didn’t look up a single thing about the film either before hand, or whilst watching, so I went in completely oblivious to what I was about to watch. If you noticed I for once used past tense as I am doing what I rarely do and writing this section after I’ve actually watched the thing.
Sam (English) is a blind call-handler for a a suicide helpline and she goes in for her last shift before she leaves to be a teacher. She is asked if she is willing to have a new call-handler, Jess (Hansis), sit next to her for the entire shift. Before meeting her, Jess listens to a call that Sam had with a man called John (Mane), a man who admits to having dangerous thoughts, although Sam doesn’t know that he is also a serial killer.
After Val (Lords), one of Sam’s co-workers, lets John know that Sam is going to be leaving, he gets irate and slams the phone down. Sam feels guilty for the entire situation but she soon realises that John has actually come to the building and he starts killing off her co-workers.
John eventually finds her and quickly realises that she is blind.He quickly teases her by throwing pipes in front of her, but it isn’t long before he stops playing games and takes things a step further.
A worthwhile film?
“Devil May Call” is an interesting premise on many levels, but it suffers from similar problems to a lot of other small-budget horror films and that is that whilst the concept is decent, the execution is pretty lifeless.
I’m actually going to start this breakdown by talking about the ending. Without giving too much away, the ending is a massive anti-climax. It feels like such a flat way to end a film and it was one that felt like a big let down. Up until this point I was actually relatively invested in the film and whilst never excited, I was certainly intrigued, but the ending completely ruined in and I really wish I could spoil it for you, but it wouldn’t feel fair.
If you do choose to watch “Devil May Call” then you will know exactly what I mean when I say that the ending is just out of the blue and doesn’t feel like the film has a final resolution. It’s really strange that with less than one minute to go, John and Sam are in an indepth conversation, then something happens and that’s it, that’s the end. I think my exact reaction was saying “Oh….ok then”.
Away from the ending, as I mentioned above I did feel somewhat engaged by the film, even though it never goes above luke-warm. This is mainly due to the pacing of the 85 minute feature, it is pretty bad. It takes far too long for something to actually happen and when it does, you’re starting to lose a bit of interest.
For example, once Sam does become aware of John’s presence, there is over an hour or so of the film gone, it takes a long time to get into, and I personally feel that they could have had him arrive at least 20 minutes earlier and shown more of her trying to hide in the office and obviously her reactions of not knowing where John is. Don’t get me wrong, the scene in which John throws things in front of her scare her is actually quite clever, but there should have been more of it.
The concept is interesting enough and the character of Sam isn’t actually a bad protagonist as you have an empahty with her given the past that she reveals at one point, and you understand why she does this for a living, even if she is going to be leaving. Corri English does a fairly decent job of portraying a blind character as well, although the director could have possibly made the fact she can’t see a bit more integral to the scenes in which she knows John is around.
She is however the only character that is generally likeable. Jess is just there, there’s nothing really to him or the character and he is just bland, whereas Val is a character that you’ve seen in several thousand films before. There’s nothing particularly interesting or unique in any character other than Sam. None of them away from the main protagonist have anything resembling a second personality trait and it’s hard to get invested in them.
“Devil May Call” is not an awful film, but I would be hard pushed to say that it’s anything more than ok, at best. It’s problem is that the concept isn’t matched by the execution and whilst there are worse ways to spend 85 minutes of your life, the ending makes you realise that it’s 85 minutes that you’re never going to get back.
With just 240 votes on IMDB at the moment, I get the feeling that the rating of 4.4/10 at the time of writing is ever so slightly too high.
If it’s on then feel free to watch it, but try not to be left with a feeling that the ending is exceptionally rushed and unresolve.