ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, AUG. 29, 2014
With its pitch-black humour, quirky characters, and desolate small-town vibe—not to mention those furry-earmuff cop hats—The Calling seems like it might be trying to be a horror flick for the Fargo set. Unfortunately, even with a cast that includes Oscar winners Susan Sarandon and Ellen Burstyn and the scene-stealing Donald Sutherland, The Calling isn’t all that memorable, overall.
And man, is it slow.
Sarandon stars as Det. Insp. Hazel Micallef, whom we first encounter hauling herself up off her bedroom floor in search of painkillers. She’s also fond of whisky to help with her bad back, and is extremely set in her ways.
“Your stubbornness is gonna kill you,” warns a good friend in a bar. “There’s worse ways to go,” she replies.
Indeed, in the small town of Fort Dundas, Ontario (actually Hamilton), there are worse ways—like that befalling the film’s first murder victim, an elderly woman with her throat brutally sliced wide-open. “If you’re gonna puke, don’t do it here,” cautions the hard-core Micallef to another cop arriving on the scene.
As more grisly killings pile up, Micallef and Det. Ray Greene (Gil Bellows) are joined by transferred Toronto cop Ben Wingate (the nerdy Topher Grace, playing a nerdy Topher Grace), which ramps up the quirkiness factor big-time. But the newly geekified investigation team soon figures out that the shapes of the victims’ mouths are being methodically manipulated after death for some reason.
Cue the arrival of Sutherland, whose Father Price solemnly explains a story from early Christian mysticism about 12 disciples who sacrificed themselves to complete a prayer that would resurrect “a chosen one”. Yeah, I didn’t fall for it either.
Soon the cops are on the trail of a soft-spoken, enigmatic stranger in town (Christopher Heyerdahl) who goes around saying that he specializes in “methods that conventional medicine ignores”. By this time, The Calling has come to resemble a dragged-out version of any number of dark-toned police procedurals on TV, and as such gets you wondering if—Oscar winners or not—your time would have been better spent on the sofa at home.