Murder most fantastical
THE CALLING ★★★
Directed by Jason Stone Starring Susan Sarandon, Gil Bellows, Ellen Burstyn, Topher Grace, Donald Sutherland, Christopher Heyerdahl 15A cert, gen release, 107 min
Inspector Hazel Micallef (Susan Sarandon), is a morose, liquor -loving detective who lives with her elderly mother Emily (Ellen Burstyn) and chronic backache in a snowy rural town in Hamilton, Ontario.
One morning her bacon sandwich and Irished-up coffee is interrupted by a call to check in on a local woman of her acquaintance. Hazel is surprised to discover a murder scene. Shocked, she and her colleague Ray (Gil Bellows) are soon joined by a younger officer (Topher Grace). The small-towners are suspicious that a city boy should arrive just as they’re investigating their first major incident in years. But when they realise how weird the crime scene is, they’re forced to pull together.
There’s something off about the victim’s mouth, something that may or may not have to do with Christian mysticism, herbal remedies and, oh yes, Donald Sutherland. Think Columbo. But with a lady cop and ancient Catholic mumbo jumbo. The Calling is a little bit Se7en, a little bit Fargo, and quite a bit daft. You couldn’t describe it as subtle: Hazel’s dependency on alcohol and painkillers is trumpeted by incessant, heroic guzzling from pillboxes and whiskey bottles.
The prime suspect’s capacity for murder is bellowed by odd facial hair and a doctor’s bag. The final shot is wildly silly. Still, working against the sublime, hilly backdrop of Dundas, director Jason Stone keeps his pacing elegant and the atmosphere moody.
A thoroughly enjoyable, old-pro cast set up some lovely cross-chemistry: Sarandon and Bellows, Sarandon and Grace, Sarandon and Burstyn. The Twilight Saga’s Christopher Heyerdahl counterpoints with a performance as indelibly creepy as it is unexpectedly charismatic.