A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Calling is a crime thriller with several religious references that includes graphic images of dead bodies in various states -- such as an elderly woman with a slit throat and a man whose stomach has been removed (viewers later see dogs eating the stomach). The serial killer also positions the mouths of his victims after they've died. There are mentions of suicide, most of which are faith-based, throughout the movie, and one character shoots himself in the head. The main character drinks heavily and abuses prescription pills to numb her pain. Strong language is also used, including words like "s--t," "f--k," and "hell."
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What's the story?
Adapted from Inger Ash Wolfe's novel of the same name, THE CALLING stars Susan Sarandon as Hazel Micallef, a surly detective in a small town who spends most of her day drinking and taking pills to numb her pain. When she discovers a gruesome murder and realizes its similarities to cases in neighboring counties, Hazel turns to Father Price (Donald Sutherland) to understand what "Liberare" -- the Latin phrase that the victims' mouths have been manipulated to say -- means in relation to the murders. With the help of Detective Ray Green (Gil Bellows) and the newest addition to her team, Ben Wingate (Topher Grace), Hazel must find and stop a zealot serial killer before he can complete an ancient prayer of resurrection.
Is it any good?
The bleak landscape of Hazel's quiet, small town of Port Dundas provides an eerie vibe to The Calling, and the ominous music adds to the suspense in this crime thriller. Although the serial killer's identity is confirmed midway through the movie, Christopher Heyerdahl's performance as the prophetic yet extremist Simon is best shown in the chilling scenes where he uses his faith to persuade his victims and his alternative medicine in an attempt to heal a young girl.
Sarandon effortlessly portrays a moody alcoholic whose pessimistic disposition often clouds her judgment, leading the audience to believe she may choose to become one of Simon's victims. Those familiar with the Bible will quickly recognize the religious references throughout the movie, and the ambiguous ending allows viewers to question Simon's faith.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role of Internet communities in The Calling. Why do you think Simon's victims felt more comfortable reaching out to someone online than in person? Who do you reach out to when you need to talk to someone?
How is religion portrayed in the movie? Do you think any particular message was intended? What do you think happened at the end of the movie?
How are alcohol and substance abuse portrayed in the movie?
- In theaters: August 29, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: September 23, 2014
- Cast: Susan Sarandon, Topher Grace, Gil Bellows
- Director: Jason Stone
- Studio: Vertical Entertainment
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violent content, disturbing images and some language
- Last updated: January 8, 2021
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