After this unusually well-made thriller builds suspense to almost unbearable levels, the filmmakers nearly throw everything away with a gear-change so contrived that we can't help but laugh. It's one of those ill-conceived final acts that seems to have been written by a focus group that wanted to see something "satisfying" on screen even if it violates the integrity of the entire story. Fortunately the cast is good enough to get away with it.

Most of the story takes place in a Los Angeles emergency call centre, where Jordan (Berry) receives a horrific call from a teen girl who's being stalked in her own home. And Jordan blames herself for the violence that follows. Six months later, she has removed herself to a training job, but gets roped in when another teen, Casey (Breslin), calls in panic from the boot of a moving car. This is clearly the same villain (Eklund) as before, and Jordan does everything she can to help Casey both survive and reveal her location. Along the way Jordan's assisted by a passerby (Imperioli) as well as her cop ex-boyfriend (Chestnut).

So far so good, as both Jordan's and Casey's perspectives ratchet up the emotional intensity. The kidnapper is seriously deranged and oddly difficult to track as time runs out. And here's where the film jumps the rail: Jordan takes matters into her own hands, heading out into danger without bothering to call for back-up. This sets up a rather terrifying final showdown that would have been much more involving if we could believe it.

Continue reading: The Call Review