Friday, March 26, 2010

'When Evil Calls' isn't much past its novelty

When Evil Calls (2007)
Starring: Jennifer Lim, Sean Pertwee, Chris Barrie, Lois Winston, Gemma Chan, Lucy Barker, Dominique Pinon, Rick Warden, Oscar Pearce and Luke Lynch
Director: Johannes Roberts
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A deal that one girl (Lim) makes with an evil spirit (Pearce) unleashes death and mayhem via text messages in a British high school.

"When Evil Calls" is a film version of the first-ever horror series produced for broadcast over cellphones. Each of the 20 episodes was 2-3 minutes long, offering up sex and gory violence brought on by evil magic--magic that causes wishes to come true in twisted and bloody ways. Here, they have been linked together with framing sequences featuring Sean Pertwee as a crazy janitor who is relating the horrible events and trying to be more and more like the Crypt Keeper as he gets more and more drunk.

Given its history, I acknowledge it as a novelty and probably even as a milestone. However, as a movie--and this is how I came to it and how most people will come to it--"When Evil Calls" is a run-of-the-mill low-budget horror effort with predictable and/or far-fetched stories that we've seen done better elsewhere, but which manages to rise slightly above similar material due to a better-than-usual cast. (Chris Barrie was particularly fun as the most oblivous school headmaster ever.)

However, when they were cutting the movie together, they should have trimmed parts of the original episodes. There was an annoying repetion in the film--over and over again, it established the content of text message recieved by victims of the evil magic received, something even the dimmest viewer would be aware of after the third or fourth time. I understand why that detail has to be reestablished every time a new episode is released in a serial, but there's no need for it when the pieces are packaged as a whole.

It also occurs to me that a better title for the film (and the original series) would have been "When Evil Texts". That is, after all, what is going on.

As a curiosity, the film might be worth seeing. Otherwise, I'm sure there are better things out there for you to spend your time on.

No comments:

Post a Comment