HOLLYWOOD—The title to the thriller “The Call” was not alluring at all. Upon first glance, I thought this would be a complete mess, but you can never judge a book by its cover as this psychological thriller presents some well crafted scares for the audience.

The picture stars Oscar-winner Halle Berry as Jordan Turner, a 911-dispatch operator whose job is emotionally demanding. After being unable to save the life of a victim from a psychopath, Jordan takes a mental beating that places her at a breaking point with her position. The police are tracking a serial killer who has methodically knocked off several women and is continuing his reign of terror when Jordan receives a call from his latest victim.

The movie becomes an intense game of cat and mouse, where Jordan and the police, do everything in their power to catch this elusive killer. The problem, he’s quite smarter than some would think; that makes him quite dangerous. His victim is a teenager Casey Welson portrayed by Abigail Breslin. Breslin displays some incredible acting chops for a victim on the verge of death. The sequences with her character attempting to alert fellow citizens of her impending danger are so tense it will leave the spectator unnerved to say the least.

Jordan has the support of her cop boyfriend portrayed by Morris Chestnut; the chemistry that one would expect from the couple is just not there in my opinion. It’s more like a guy on the prowl, attempting to form that relationship that hasn’t gotten there yet. The killer’s lair is indeed a twisted one leading into the climax, where the audience might suspect better decisions to be made by our heroine, who is out to prove something. She lost one life and she’s not willing to lose another one even if it means sacrificing her own.

The picture is directed by Brad Anderson who uses the camera effectively to present the scares to the audience. When it comes to an effective thriller/horror picture, correct use of the camera and staging plays a pivotal role in delivering the unexpected to the audience. The script by Richard D’Ovidio is clever. It appears one note, but as the story progresses the suspense factor continues to heighten.

While “The Call” may be a movie many have already taken off their radar list, audiences will be surprised by the thrills that are actually delivered in this clever picture. It’s not Berry’s finest work, but she does indeed portray a well-rounded character dealing with trauma that has not only disrupted her mental state, but also her social interaction with everyone else. In my opinion, “The Call” is the first surprise movie of the 2013 season.

By LaDale Anderson