The Calling

 
(i)

 

Faith-themed crime thriller has graphic violence, language.
  • Review Date: August 29, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 108 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Amid its story about brutal murders, The Calling shows the importance of reaching out to others, either through an online community or a friend or family member, to discuss what may be causing you pain. 

Positive role models

Hazel's mother, Emily, often tries to cheer up her moody and cynical daughter. Although Hazel drinks heavily and sometimes makes questionable decisions that affect her fellow officers, her persistence and resilience help her solve the case. 

Violence

Hazel and her team are investigating a series of murders that include graphic visuals like a woman whose throat has been slit and a man whose stomach has been removed. One scene shows dogs eating the removed stomach. The victims' mouths are manipulated after death, and later Hazel reads detailed reports from the coroner's office. Ben discovers a rotting corpse in a trailer in the middle of the woods. A woman has scalding-hot water poured on her back. A man commits suicide by shooting himself in the head. 

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Some uses of "s--t," "hell," and "f--k."

Consumerism

References to Jim Beam and Oldsmobile.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Hazel is constantly drinking alcohol at home, in bars, and at work. She also abuses her prescription pills and is seen stealing medication from crime scenes.

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."

Kids say

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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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 29, 2014
DVD release date: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

This review of The Calling was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

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; OK 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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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bywonder dove May 26, 2015
 

Excellent mystery thriller!

I found this film to be quite enjoyable! I loved the fact that it was mysterious with a dark errie vibe throughout. Susan Sarandon is wonderful as always and the acting was absolutely superb. It was nice to see Topher Grace play someone different. The story is not too scary for older teens but still has an incredibly creepy atmosphere and the killings that are shown afterwords are usually graphic and gory. It is a mystery suspense thriller done very well but with minimum action and more drama, I would definitely watch it again! Violence is gory and includes lots of murders which result in a graphic slit throat, a stomach removed from a body with dogs eating the remains, mouths of victims are manipulated into freaky positions, a suicide, a rotting corpse is discovered, people are poisoned, scalding hot water is poured on a woman's back as she screams. Language is strong but not too frequent which includes some uses of the f-word, sh*t and hell. No sexual content. Some scenes of drinking, a character may be an alcoholic, some pill popping. Overall, safe for teens 15+.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educator and Parent Written byjohnswanson October 24, 2014
 

Great mystery, but graphically violent.

This film is a very good dark mystery. It is hard to know what age is appropriate because each kid is different. If your child can handle graphic violence, gore, and bad language, then this film would be fine for them. If you have sensitive children, stay away from this film. The main character is also a pill-popping alcoholic who doesn't seem to be interested in changing. A good movie - but make sure you know your kids.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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