Susan Sarandon Stars as Small Town Detective in Adaptation of Cat-and-Mouse Murder Mystery
Hazel Micallef (Susan Sarandon) was thinking about retiring from the Port Dundas police force because of the herniated disc which left her addicted to both booze and painkillers. But the hobbled detective decided to put those plans on hold the day she stumbled upon the body of an elderly neighbor whose throat had been slit from ear-to-ear by a deranged intruder.
After all, this was her beloved hometown’s first homicide in years, and there’s no way she could leave the investigation on the shoulders of the only other two detectives on the force, veteran Ray Green (Gil Bellows) and newcomer Ben Wingate (Topher Grace). Soon, the three unearth evidence which indicates that the murder might very well be the work of the same serial killer responsible for several other recent slayings elsewhere around Ontario.
Apparently, the creepy lapsed Catholic was practically taunting the authorities by leaving clues online, which is where he preys on each of his vulnerable victims. The question is whether, with the help of a priest (Donald Sutherland), the police will be able pinpoint the prime suspect’s locale in time to prevent him from striking again.
That is the intriguing setup of The Calling, a multi-layered mystery marking South African Jason Stone’s chilling directorial debut. Based on the Inger Ash Wolfe best seller of the same name, the film unfolds less like a whodunit than a cat-and-mouse caper, given how the perpetrator’s identity is confirmed about midway through the movie.
Still, the picture proves compelling, thanks to a powerful performance on the part of Susan Sarandon. The talented Oscar-winner (for Dead Man Walking) is uncharacteristically unappealing playing a familiar archetype, one of those substance-abusing souls in decline who summons up the strength to solve one last case.
Fair warning: the film is tarnished slightly by periodic displays of grisly crime scenes apt to upset audience members averse to gratuitous gore. Otherwise, the picture earns accolades as a taut thriller about a religious zealot on a ritualistic killing spree.
Bless me father for I have slain!
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for violence, profanity and disturbing content
Running time: 108 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures
To see a trailer for The Calling: