A Dead Calling
Distributed by: Lions Gate
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
I picked up A Dead Calling from the local video store in the hopes of finding something new and interesting to watch. I picked a horror film, because they usually offer something of value even if it is not entirely great. This one, it turned out, was one of those movies.
After witnessing the death of her fiancée, Rachel Beckwith (Alexandra Holden, Friends, The Hot Chick) moves to the small town of Filmore with her parents, and attempts to rebuild her life as a journalist at a local paper there. In researching her first story of her new job, she stumbles upon a strange mansion with a haunting secret. She is almost immediately faced with frightening images of brutal murders inside the house; images that seemingly disappear as quickly as they appeared. Unsure if her past trauma is catching up to her, Rachel struggles with what she saw and how to move on from it. But she can not let go of what she saw and Rachel finds herself returning to the house again, her reporter’s instincts guiding her to solve its mystery. Every time she goes into the house, she’s faced with another mystery and another series of violent images, some so real, she can hardly decipher what is or isn’t reality anymore.
The more she researches the more she learns about the old house, including a bizarre and dangerous set of murders from a well respected doctor, Frank Sullivan (Timothy Oman) thirty years ago. Can a reporter from the present, solve an old mystery and help quell the suffering of the ghosts from the past? But when the good doctor returns, an even deeper secret is revealed about Rachel and the death of her fiancée.
For the most part, the movie was neither good nor bad, just there. The acting was good and the story interesting. It had some of the elements of a good horror film, but none of it was done originally or with any kind of real flare. It was watchable, but not all together terrifying or suspenseful.
There were a lot of wasted scenes in which we follow Rachel walking around or standing around. I understand this is meant to build tension, but it falls a little flat as the story—at least in the beginning—is not interesting enough to hold my attention through these pointless scenes. Despite her journalism background, I still found it hard to believe that she would dare to go back to the house after what she’d been through and what she’d seen inside those walls.
The worst thing was that about a half hour in, I figured out why she was drawn to this house and what the underlying ‘surprise’ of the movie was, and I was a little disappointed by how easy it was to spot. So while I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone, I wouldn’t stop anyone from wanting to watch it if they chose to do so. Take from that what you will.