Friday, February 9, 2018

Film Review: Don't Hang Up (2016)

Don't Hang Up (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"If you're a fan of thrillers like Joy Ride, you might enjoy this one the most."

A pair of teenage pranksters are targeted by a mysterious stranger who wants to play a game with them.

Don't Hang Up follows two pranksters, Sam Fuller (Gregg Sulkin) and Brady Mannion (Garrett Clayton). Sam is depressed because of his girlfriend's distant behavior, so Brady comes up with a bright idea: drinks and pranks. So, the pair drink and prank Sam's neighbors. Then, they receive a mysterious call from a 'Mr. Lee,' who happens to know a lot about Sam and Brady. They shrug off his initial threats and move on with their night. Mr. Lee has other plans for them, though. He reveals that he's kidnapped the loved ones of Sam and Brady. The only way to free them is if Sam kills Brady... or if Brady kills Sam. It leads to a predictable ending. The ending didn't leave a strong impression, unfortunately.

Don't Hang Up reminded me of Joy Ride—a simple but suspenseful thriller. It has many of the same elements: douchey characters who like pranks, an ominous villain who doesn't have much of a physical presence, and a simple setting. In this case, however, the characters are very douchey and often unlikable. Mr. Lee is an ominous character, but, aside from his ability to control Sam's electronics, he's not exactly as intimidating or memorable as a trucker in an 18-wheeler. The setting makes for an easy experience, it's never complicated, but it's also forgettable. The film is also contrived and predictable at times.

Still, Don't Hang Up offers some moderate suspense, a few jump-scares, and solid pacing—everything you need in a basic thriller. It's flawed, sure, but it's also a fun time killer. I don't regret watching it. In fact, although I didn't like it as much as Joy Ride, I find it difficult to say this is a mediocre or even a bad movie. It's good—just good.

The acting can be hit-or-miss, especially when the scenes become demanding, but it was otherwise serviceable. Greg Sulkin and Garrett Clayton filled the shoes of their douchebag characters well. The film was shot well, too. The use of music, which is usually minimal, added an interesting effect to the film—it created a tense atmosphere. The film was written by Joe Johnson and directed by Alexis Wajsbrot and Damien Mace. The writing could have used more originality and oomph, but it was good enough. It doesn't have many severe flaws or gaping plot holes. Wajsbrot and Mace worked well as the directors. They create a suspenseful thriller in a compact package. They didn't waste any time.

Overall, Don't Hang Up was a good movie. If you're a fan of thrillers like Joy Ride, you might enjoy this one the most. It's not perfect or revolutionary, but it's a solid time killer.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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