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The premise of The Call alone is enough to attract attention, although not entirely new, considering that there was Frequency (2000) on the big screen, while the South Korean entertainment industry once presented a successful television series entitled Signal in 2016. This concept, coupled with the cast lineup of Park Shin-hye, and Jeon Jong-seo, who made a stunning acting debut in Burning (2018), make Lee Chung-hyun’s directorial debut one of the most awaited titles towards the end of the year. Unfortunately, The Call is one more example, how fatal it is when a half-baked script wraps a high concept story. Best Movie Site

It is said, Kim Seo-yeon (Park Shin-hye) visited her mother (Kim Sung-ryung) who was seriously ill in the countryside, where she lived as a child. The relationship between the two strains, because Seo-yeon blames her mother for her father’s death in a fire. Meanwhile, Seo-yeon stays in her past home. That’s where he gets a call from a mysterious girl named Oh Young-sook (Jeon Jong-seo), who is about to be killed by his mother (Lee El).

But that’s not the only oddity. The home address Young-sook gave him was the same as Seo-yeon’s childhood home. Only then did Seo-yeon realize that they were both from different times. To be precise, Young-sook was from 20 years ago. Their communication has become even more intense, from discussing casual matters such as technological developments and Seo Taiji, to mutual aid efforts that end up changing the future.

Both the acting of the two actresses with solid chemistry, as well as the deft editing of Yang Jin-mo, produced a strong dynamic, even though their interactions were only by phone, and only came face to face when the film reached its climax. It was also initially interesting to see how one event influenced another’s timeline, until Lee Chung-hyun, who wrote his script based on the British film The Caller (2011), struggled to deal with the basic problem in a time-themed story: paradox.

Yawning holes filled the entire length of the film. If an event is changed, shouldn’t Seo-yeon and Young-sook’s meeting change too? Why did Seo-yeon and Young-sook notice the change when everyone else didn’t? Is it because only they are connected between the two eras? But that’s just an assumption, considering that the script never gives an explanation. Most importantly, how are the two connected? Usually, in films with similar themes, the last point does not require an answer, but the urgency arises due to the domino of the question above. Movie Review

Luckily the audience has the option of putting the paradox aside and letting themselves drift off on the routine bends and surprises. Jong-seo, who applies a fast-paced storytelling style, keeps The Call fun to follow. At least midway through the duration, because afterward, the plot moves towards a cliché parade of carnage, where the concept of time difference doesn’t really make any difference.

Even though there is a huge pile of potential once it is revealed that Young-sook is not as good as he seems. From mutual help, the two 28 year old women turned to attack each other. We know Young-sook’s deeds can affect the future, but can Seo-yeon strike back? The question aroused curiosity. Unfortunately, apart from the grooves, Jong-seo also seems to have difficulty developing his premise with more creativity. As a result, the climax only ends in a cat-and-mouse sequence that we don’t know how many times we have seen in slasher films. The script also intends to make the final act the emotional climax of Seo-yeon’s relationship with her mother, but because their relationship is not properly developed, it ends up being limited to the emptiness that is presented.

The Call’s greatest savior came from the performance of the two main characters. Jeon Jong-seo produces an intimidating psychopathic figure, whose laughter can be uncomfortable. While Park Shin-hye is still good at playing with taste, especially when crying. Maybe that’s why the director chose to end the film with a shot similar to the ending of Miracle in Cell No. 7 (2013). At least, in the midst of the many holes in the script and wasted potential, the duet of the actress was able to make The Call still worth seeing. Top Movie

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