Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Film Review: End Call (2008)

End Call (Review)
Japan/2008
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

If you video call the forbidden number at midnight, the Devil will grant your wish. But, he'll also have control of your life for the duration of the phone call. A group of high school students begin calling to make wishes - some to escape misery and others to capture love. However, there wishes don't turn out the way they wanted, and some wishes conflict with each other...

End Call is a haunted technology horror film, like Ringu and Pulse. The video calls are very basic - the screen simply turns black as they make their wish - which is disappointing. The outcome of some of their wishes are often disturbing, though; in fact, the first death (?) was cringe-worthy. The somewhat promising introduction is soiled when the film starts to inconsistently jump from time to time. This nonlinear storytelling is very confusing and ineffective. For example: a scene may start in the present, show a time screen stating "1 month earlier" for the next scene, then that scene will end with a fade into a scene with a specific date. So, it uses both 1 week/month earlier time cards, and specific dates, which makes it hard to distinguish between the present and past. It comes off as very, very sloppy.

The rest of the film after the beginning follows this storytelling method. Since it's so confusing, I spent more time focusing on the time and dates than the actual story. That's not a problem since the story is uneventful and repetitive; the story is very forgettable, although the concept is interesting. It does have a dark atmosphere, but the suspense and terror is absent - I wasn't scared. There are some effectively disturbing scenes, though; there are effective scenes, like a scene involving a blender and another involving a mistaken toothbrush. The ending of the film, if I understood it correctly, was sinister - I liked it, even as the third act dragged on and on.

The acting was okay. Most of the acting comes off as believable. However, there are some scenes where the cast display frustration but fail to nail it; the frustration comes off as very fake and forced. I like the music in this film, it has a unique horror sound. The bleak style works for the film, and creates a dark atmosphere. The editing and storytelling is sloppy and ineffective.

Overall, End Call has a great concept, a few disturbing scenes, and a dark ending. However, the storytelling is absolutely horrid, the terror is almost nonexistent, and the story is uneventful and forgettable. I recommend streaming as part of a membership program like Netflix, before paying directly to watch End Call.

Score: 3/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and some gore.

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