Both having tragic upbringings, they work together to change their fate. 1999 was the year Seo-Yeon lost her father and Young-Sook may be able to prevent her father’s death. That’s why she asks her friend from the past to rewrite her own history and reset her reality. All goes as plan and happiness returns to Seo-Yeon's life along with her father. Meanwhile, she also learns that Young-Sook will get killed by her stepmother, who thinks she is possessed and tries various exorcism techniques on her. As a good friend, she decides to warn her about it. While she manages to rescue Young Sook from death, she accidentally unleashes a pandora's box of death. Seo-Yeon is now tasked to save her family from the horrors of the past. Will she be able to save them? Watch it to find out.
Director Lee Chung-Hyun, who makes his feature film debut with this film, builds a world that’s both familiar and foreign to us which makes the end product both intriguing and chilling. It’s rare that a thriller is able to do anything super innovative these days, which makes The Call all the more delightful, in a dark demented way. Time-travel thrillers aren’t exactly new but what sets 'The Call' apart is how it breaks the code of the genre and alters some unwritten rules. The combination of the time travel concept with the thriller components really works, despite all the ways, it could potentially go wrong. While we are used to time-travel tropes like how a single minor change in the timeline causes a ripple effect, 'The Call' demonstrates this in a visually stunning manner, while also giving us a peek into Korea’s tradition of how it deals with exorcism.
The movie spends a lot of time creating Seo-Yeon’s world and her mental state, taking an effective slow-burn approach that allows the intrigue and tension to build in a truly unsettling way. It also boasts some gorgeous, eerie production design and is full of interesting camerawork. These visuals are balanced beautifully with the strength of the performers, who fully embrace the wide spectrum of emotions required for their roles. Through effective world-building and acting, The Call creates a distinctively chilling and suspenseful vibe that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats until its very last moments. The movie allows for complete audience immersion. As viewers, we get to sit in our emotions and fully experience the feeling of dread, happiness, and distress. 'The Call' surely is not a light watch. The feeling of isolation, loneliness, and helplessness of characters are massive and sensed to a point where the movie feels claustrophobic.
The movie was actually inspired by the 2011 British and Puerto Rican movie named ‘The Caller’ by Matthew Parker. Still, this genre hybrid avoids feeling cut-and-dried. It avoids feeling formulaic, especially for global audiences by building a chilling world that blends reliable horror elements with Korean tradition. Some people can also think that ‘The Call’ evokes the hit K-drama ‘Signal’, which featured a walkie-talkie that allowed a detective in 1985 to communicate with a criminal profiler in 2015. Although the movie flaunts amazing visuals styles and camerawork by cinematographer Jo Young-Jik with an impressive production design. The western graphics presented with Korean characteristics is well complemented which forms a distinctively menacing chill.
The entire cast is great, but the two leading ladies, Park Shin-Hye and Jong-Seo Jun truly carry the whole movie on their shoulders. They spend very little time on screen physically together, but their on-screen chemistry is rare and neatly balanced. The story wears its female-centric quality effortlessly. Jeon Jong-seo as Young-sook is the real star of this film and her descent into madness is brilliantly performed and hardly betrays the fact that this is only her second film after 2018’s ‘Burning’. Her character build-up is most convincing to watch as she seems effortless in evoking the sense of pity to pure repugnance and horror. On the other side, Park Shin-Hye also does a great job in her role by offering a different facet of her acting skills. The conviction with which she shifts from each emotion with the utmost ease. Their excellent acting skills and engaging storytelling keeps the viewers hooked until the end.
Despite some loopholes, such as a failure to explain how the phone call between the two ladies is possible in the first place, the film manages to have you at the edge of your seat for the majority of its 112-minute runtime. If you’re someone who needs answers to every single question, then you should know that the film doesn’t spoon-feed every single bit of information to the audience and requires some mental work to find the answers. It will make you constantly absorbed into your own ‘what next’ or ‘what if’ moments all through its runtime. A great tip: don’t miss the end credit which was no one ready for.
A strong contender for one of the best original thrillers the streamer has ever put out, 'The Call' is entertaining, emotional, and extremely bloody, one is bound to make more than a few year-end lists. With solid performances, excellent production highlighting the cause and effect relationship between parallel past and present timelines, and a willingness to get lurid where necessary, 'The Call' is a solid effort, and all within two hours. Well worth a look on Netflix in this month of Halloween. Overall, 'The Call' is a movie that is worth answering.
* Rumaiysa M Rahman is a 10th grader at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, Dhaka