The Call

  • Review Date: March 14, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2013

Common Sense Media says

Gripping thriller has tons of violence directed at a teen.
  • Review Date: March 14, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2013

Age(i)

2
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9
10
11
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15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A woman learns to face her fears, though she marches into a dangerous situation to do so. She also tries to forgive herself for a past mistake. On the downside, the movie promotes revenge.

Positive role models

The movie takes a close look at the difficult work of 911 operators, who can be seen as heroic in a certain light. One such operator, the movie's main character, works tirelessly to save a teen girl's life.

Violence

A teenage girl is kidnapped, punched, beaten, stripped down to her bra, and briefly tortured. She's shown with a swollen eye. In an earlier scene, a prowler breaks into a home and attacks another teen girl. This girl is later shown dead (pixilated) on the evening news. A man is beaten with a shovel, stabbed with a screwdriver, and killed. A serial killer's gruesome hideout is shown, with bloody smears on the walls and a collection of girls' scalps. A man is lit on fire with gasoline and a lighter. Verbal descriptions of violent crimes and murders heard on the 911 calls.

Sex

A teen girl is shown in her bra, but it's not in a sexual/romantic context. Two teens talk about sexual matters at a mall, with mild innuendo (with phrases like "bone you"). Two adults kiss.

Language

"Motherf----r," "s--t," "bitch," "hell," "oh my God," and "goddamn" are all used a few times each.

Consumerism

A Pepsi logo is seen (backwards, in a window) in one scene. Another scene takes place in a mall, though businesses are never shown clearly.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drugs are mentioned during several of the 911 calls in the opening scenes. Two teen girls mention that someone they know "smokes dope."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Call is a gripping but very violent thriller about a heroic 911 operator trying to rescue a kidnapped teen girl. The girl is punched, beaten, stripped to her bra, and briefly tortured. Her age isn't specifically mentioned in the movie, but actress Abigail Breslin is 16. There are also scenes in which characters are stabbed with a screwdriver and lit on fire. Other aspects of the movie are fairly mild, including language, with just a few uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as some mild sexual innuendo involving teens (and one grown-up kiss). Several of the 911 calls heard on the soundtrack describe acts of violence, including drug use. Ultimately, because all of the movie's intense, serial killer-related violence centers around a teen victim, this movie isn't recommended for any but the most mature viewers.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Jordan (Halle Berry) is a very good 911 operator ... until she gets a call from a teen girl reporting a prowler. Jordan makes a small error of judgment, and the girl ends up killed. Six months later, a shaken Jordan is working away from the phones, teaching trainees the ropes. But when a call from a frantic kidnapped girl, Casey (Abigail Breslin), comes in, Jordan overcomes her fear and takes over. She uses all her skills and training to try to find Casey -- who's locked in the trunk of a car -- before it's too late. But, to Jordan's horror, she eventually realizes that the kidnapper is the same man who killed the other girl.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

THE CALL is a high-concept thriller that certainly has the potential to self-destruct, especially when it dives into totally implausible territory during its final stretch. But genre specialist Brad Anderson (Session 9, The Machinist, Transsiberian) gives it a taut, low-budget energy that keeps it pulsing throughout its entire running time. It helps that both Berry and Breslin give tense, emotionally raw performances, inviting viewers to really care about their characters.

Anderson occasionally delves into moments of pure horror, complete with odd angles and off-kilter rhythms. Specifically, the serial killer elements seem fairly strong for a thriller of this type, but they don't ruin the overall effect. Indeed, the movie is so effectively constructed that it recalls enormous hits of decades past like Fatal Attraction and The Silence of the Lambs. If only Berry's character had seen these movies, she could have sharpened up the ending a bit.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about The Call's intense violence. How did it affect you? Do you think the story could have been told with milder violence?

  • Why do you think there are so many movies (and other types of media) about serial killers? Why are we so fascinated by them?

  • Do you feel that the teen characters were sexualized in any way? If so, do you feel this was acceptable or unacceptable? Why?

  • What's the movie's take on revenge? Do you think it's realistic? Justifiable?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 15, 2013
DVD release date:June 25, 2013
Cast:Abigail Breslin, Halle Berry, Morris Chestnut
Director:Brad Anderson
Studio:TriStar Pictures
Genre:Thriller
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, disturbing content and some language

This review of The Call was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byjoshua martinez March 15, 2013
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

17 and up.

the call is a good chilling thriller movie stars with Halle Berry but this thriller movie is very violent and disturbing with that being said this thriller movie is only for mature audiences and parents you need to know that the call has a lot of disturbing violence that is over the top there is strong language used.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old March 15, 2013
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

The call might be a good call

This is a violent movie has lots of disturbing content and images but has a point when your kids will see this they might be scared and be more respectful and lovable

What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written bysecretpath July 3, 2013
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

really good for 16 and above

I thought it was awesome definitely one of my favorites!
But their is a lot of violence to a teen talk to your families on what to do in a situation like this but personally i loved it.

What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing

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