By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Gripping thriller has tons of violence directed at a teen.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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"Motherf----r," "s--t," "bitch," "hell," "oh my God," and "goddamn" are all used a few times each.
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Products & Purchases
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."
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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.
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Based on 10 parent reviews
Thriller turned disturbing horror
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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?
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.
Talk to Your Kids 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?
- In theaters: March 15, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: June 25, 2013
- Cast: Abigail Breslin, Halle Berry, Morris Chestnut
- Director: Brad Anderson
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- Studio: TriStar Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, disturbing content and some language
- Last updated: May 25, 2023
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