Hello my fellow friends of the twisted and macabre! It’s been quite some time but I am back with another review! I’m always a big fan of nods to the horror film golden era (the 1980s), which is why I was very excited to check out Richard Stringham’s CLOSE CALLS, produced by S & Drive Cinema. Shall we begin?
CLOSE CALLS centers around a troubled teenage girl who is left home alone to her own devices. As the night progresses she begins to experience a terrifying sequence of events while battling her own imagination in this genre love letter that is partially a coming-of-age tale.
One thing that stood out to me about CLOSE CALLS from the beginning was the visually pleasing retro-aesthetic. This was cool considering the movie is based during the present time period. The production company’s intro splayed across the screen with a VHS tape incorporated into the logo. Not only was I excited about that, but it was accompanied with a very cool little intro jingle music. You know, like that musical intro that takes place at the beginning of every TROMA team production. I also noticed a grainy ‘retro’ filter applied during what I assumed was post-production, which was executed incredibly well. I’ve seen other films do this and it tends to be more of a distraction that visually stimulating. I think the soundtrack also played a big role in my love for this movie. VERY 80s sounding synth, dark and ominous. You can imagine that I’m a big fan of John Carpenter and that is exactly what the music reminded me of.
The storyline, though difficult to follow at times, held up really well; especially for a movie that I can imagine had a pretty low budget. The main character, Morgan (Jordan Phipps), had her sanity tested through some of the most bizarre and shitty situations imaginable. Each situation was totally different than the next, all of which you can tell were inspired by other, more popular horror/thriller films. Sometimes, in low budget indie horror films I find myself not feeling invested; however, this was not the case with CLOSE CALLS. Having a run time of just about 2 hours, I felt like my viewing time flew by. I wanted more as I needed some more vivid explanations of what I had just witnessed.
Yes, with indie films, you work with up and coming actors, therefor, there are flaws to be found. However, I didn’t give a shit about that. Jordan Phipps didn’t over act and I was so mentally invested in the film that any performances that I would typically nitpick, I brushed aside. Jordan’s acting was so different that I found myself asking “What the hell is going to happen next?” I even found myself repeatedly saying, “What in the actual fuck” as the story unfolded.
One of the weaker points of the movie to me was the ending. After all these insane events take place, I felt like the film should have had a stronger ending. I’m not saying I disliked it, but I didn’t love it as much as the rest of the film. There’s a point where it started getting into what looked like some Lords of Salem / possibly Lovecraftian type shit. I was confused yet also intrigued which is why I was surprised that it seemed to be briefly glossed over. I was also expecting more in terms of practical effects because of how I thought the movie was going in this section. Lastly, I do feel like I had a difficult time understanding the ending. I mean, it seemed to be pretty clear, but like I said, the movie took a crazy left turn and I wanted to see more of that.
Overall, I highly enjoyed CLOSE CALLS despite the few faults I encountered. I’m sure it’ll be popping up on a streaming service soon so please check it out, especially if you’re into getting your mind fucked.