I Predict You Will Not Want to Answer The Night Caller (2022)
Title: Night Caller
First Non-Festival Release: April 15, 2022 (Limited Theatrical Release)
Director: Chad Ferrin
Writer: Chad Ferrin
Runtime: 84 Minutes
Starring: Steve Railsback, Susan Priver, Bai Ling, Robert Miano
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Telephone psychic Clementine Carter (Susan Priver) is working her late-night shift reading caller’s fortunes when a wannabe serial killer dials her line. Shocked at his requests to help him commit murder, Clementine urges him to reconsider before it is too late. Confident that he will make his kill, the killer takes his first victim and decides that Clementine will be his personal feeler to ensure he makes all the right moves. Against the wishes of her boss Jade (Bai Ling) and her father Charles (Robert Miano), Clementine races to uncover his identity and turn in the killer to the police. She soon learns that she has a history with this murderer and she must use it to get justice for his victims in the present day.
Stale giallo-esque slasher Night Caller is about 30 years too late with tired gimmicks and themes.
This plot has been done before and done better across the years, countries, and subgenres. Night Caller refuses to add anything new to the formula and actively works to set the genre back. Including a cross dressing serial killer merely for the sake of provocation, it doesn’t do anything to engender fear, it merely shows the lack of imagination of the writers. Combined with the idea of child abuse leading to homicidal rampages as an ingenious motive for serial killing, originality is something Night Caller is wholly bereft of which makes it a chore to finish. If you’ve seen one serial killer thriller or giallo, you’ve pretty much seen Night Caller, except a much better version of it.
Despite lacking in plot, the murder sequences themselves are nothing to gawk at either. Each one is telegraphed before they happen and then sloppily edited into conversations with Clementine. These are meant to serve as visions, but they mostly come across as poorly done throwbacks to the jump cuts popularized by the Saw franchise in the early 2000s. Still for a slasher/giallo hybrid wannabe, there is a distinct lack of stylization and creativity involved with the death scenes, which is truly disappointing.
At every point, Night Caller disappoints in its entire production but none so much as its characters. The performances are phoned in, and the characters are inauthentically written. Energy is rarely matched, and it makes for some awkward moments, particularly between Susan Priver and Bai Ling. Clementine’s relationship with Jade and her her father feels forced. They have nice conversation, but their moments rarely gravitate towards much of anything consequential in terms of character development. It all services the plot without care for anything else.
The one thing Night Caller does get right is its self-awareness about its limitations. It knows that it doesn’t have the power of a truly terrifying slasher, nor does it have the cleverness of a sleek serial killer thriller. It leans more into the comedic aspects of these sort of films and uses that to its advantage. Perhaps the one moment the film truly becomes fun is with the final confrontation with the killer. It is the film’s standout scene and serves as a reminder of what could have been.
There isn’t much left to say about Night Caller that has not already been said. It is a relatively tame slasher film without any creativity devoted to how it plays out. From point A to point Z, everything is telegraphed in a nice, neat manner that doesn’t allow for much in terms of character development, tension, or even fun kills. Forgettable in how the mystery unfurls and lacking the charisma to carry its script to the end, Night Caller ends up being a below average straight to video film without much merit to expound. For those looking for more of a throwback or those who like their horror a little bit “politically incorrect”, might find something to enjoy here, but others can get better fortunes elsewhere.
Overall Score? 4/10