Based in a small snowy town in Canada with a female cop as a lead The Calling is begging to be compared with Fargo. Sadly The Calling falls somewhat short as the dark humour in missing and it feels more like a TV drama than a big screen thriller despite its stellar cast.
Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef (Susan Sarandon) holds down an undemanding job in a sleepy town in Ontario. Despite taking pain killers and enjoying her booze she seems to know what she is doing which becomes more evident when a gruesome murder occurs.
An elderly woman is found with her head nearly cut off and a silent scream fixed on her face. This is just the first of a series of bizarrely positioned bodies with odd frozen facial expressions, all indicating that some ancient Christian ritual was taking place.
Hazel and her fellow detective Ray (Gil Bellows) follow up the leads and, with the help of Ben (Topher Grace) – a capable transfer from Toronto- figure out who the murderer is: a creepy religious zealot called Simon (Christopher Heyerdahl) and the cat and mouse game begins.
The best thing about The Calling is the line-up of talent. Smaller roles are filled with big name actors like Donald Sutherland as Father Price or Ellen Burstyn as Saradon’s concerned mother and Sarandon is quite intense in her role as Hazel, if a little cliché ridden. But it is Grace’s usual charisma that fills the screen and an outstanding performance by Heyerdahl is what really grabs your attention.
The premise of The Calling is great, the atmosphere good, the actors terrific, but the script is sluggish. Adapted from Inger Ash Wolf’s novel the screenplay to The Calling is overworked by screenwriter Scott Abramovitch.
So maybe this is the wrong film for Jason Stone to debut his career with, or maybe he is a more creative screenwriter and producer, but The Calling just lacks that little bit of oomph, to make it a great film.