New boy Chris (Chester Rushing) is taken under the wing of Tonya (Erin Sanders) who introduces him to her ex Zack (Mike Manning) and his brother Brett (Sloane Morgan Siegel). A quick visit to the carnival, some banter and they are off to old lady Cranston (Lin Shaye) who is married to Edward (Tobin Bell).

It’s a mission the three have done many times. They hate Mrs Cranston on the grounds that they believe she killed Tonya’s younger sister Laura (while she was in Cranston’s Day Care) but got off with it. Arriving at her house they (apart from Chris) throw bricks and dead animals through the windows. They are confronted by Mrs Cranston who says that she will stand against whatever they do to her. The next morning, they learn that she has died.

Called to the house by her husband the four are made a strange offer, that they can’t refuse. It’s to go up to one of the rooms in the very spooky wood panelled house and make a call, to his wife who has a line from her grave.

If they stay on the line for more than a minute they will each receive $100,000. There’s some deliberation but they go for it. Zack’s up first, makes the call and is whipped back in time to his childhood and an abusive father. To varying degrees this is what happens to all of them, with a revelation or two.

After a shaky start The Call gets into something of a stride if only that of an inexperienced hurdler. There’s plenty of shadow and fuzzy garish colours (though there’s with a very effective monochrome and red segment) in the house. It could have got very repetitive had director Timothy Woodward Jr (written by Patrick Stibbs) decided that all the gang would take as long as Zack did to get to the room. Thankfully once we know the route there’s no need to repeat it ad nauseum. It is though still quite slow and doesn’t build up the tension in the way it could and presumably what the marvellous sets were designed for.

So it’s not the most of dynamic of rides neither has it a palpable creeping dread slowburn. The options were there to go in either direction as it stands it’s neither, so it’s left hanging. Which is a pity as the story and plot aren’t bad, and the players do well with their roles. Each has their own story though there’s not that much character development to speak of. That is left to Bell as he relates the effects their treatment had on his wife.

The Call is available on Shudder now

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