Hazel (Susan Sarandon) is a small town detective north of the border. When a beloved older citizen is mysteriously murdered, Hazel is convinced that there is something much bigger and darker going on. With the help of a green transfer from Toronto (Topher Grace) she sets out to uncover some answers. Also featuring Donald Sutherland, Ellen Burstyn, and Christopher Heyerdahl.
Picking up on the unusual fact that the victim’s face seems purposely posed, Hazel soon realizes that not only is she looking at a serial killer, but one with a supposed higher calling. With the help of an elderly priest with linguistics expertise (Sutherland) it is soon revealed that these apparent murders are, in fact, an attempt at raising the dead. Yep.
When an episode of Law and Order meets The X-Files and is mixed in with Fargo, this is what happens. Okay, so Fargo is a bit of a stretch – there is a female detective up north, and she wears some Fargo-esque outfits. Too bad since this film could have done with some Coen Brothers humor, or really anything that might have given it an original touch. It could used more X-Files too. As it is, it’s odd feature length procedural with not a whole lot going for it.
Is it a rule that all law enforcement characters on film must have some sort of emotional baggage? Dealing with drugs, alcohol, and bitterness are all par for the course, and Hazel is no exception. There aren’t many exceptions, in fact, to following cliches here, right down to the scene where the lead detective is taken off the case for no good reason, but ignores those orders.
This is a “thriller” but doesn’t offer many thrills. It’s hardly a mystery either since the culprit and motives are made pretty clear quite early on. The one shocking twist can be guessed at a million miles away. While Sarandon brings her unquestionable talent to the table, it’s a pretty small table. Sutherland seems off balance and Heyerdahl is just trying far too hard. Topher Grace is Topher Grace, take that as you may.
The entire premise is based on a supposed mystical Catholic prayer, reference to which I can’t seem to find anywhere so I can only assume it was created just for the novel on which this film is based, further diminishing interest. There was enough here to keep my attention for most of the duration of the movie, but in the end not enough to reward that attention.
Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film
My rating: Two out of five hats
The Calling is available on VOD and investigates a limited number of theaters August 29