SYNOPSIS: Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef (Susan Sarandon) leads a quiet life with her mother (Ellen Burstyn), her painkillers, and an occasional drink. But when she checks on an ill neighbor, she stumbles upon a gruesome murder that shatters her peaceful existence. With the help of a fellow detective (Gil Bellows) and a transfer cop (Topher Grace), she unearths a series of similar killings across the country. When a local priest (Donald Sutherland) suggests a link to an ancient ritual, Hazel focuses her search on a religious madman with a deadly higher calling. Based on the novel by Inger Ash Wolfe, it’s a journey to the shadowy landscape between faith and fear.


To supplement their incomes, Hollywood stars Susan Sarandon last seen in Tammy, Topher Grace currently in Interstellar and Donald Sutherland soon to be seen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1 appeared together in this independent thriller from Canada.

It’s Fargo meeting Seven when small-town police officer Hazel Micallef (Sarandon) discovered a grisly murder of an old woman in her home with her neck slashed and mouth opened wide. Together with her long-time colleague, Ray (Gil Bellows) and a newly transferred cop, Ben (Topher Grace), Hazel suspects a serial killer is on the loose as the killings turned up getting more and more bizarre.

For most of the running time,The Calling is content in making this a Sarandon vehicle that the entire serial killer premise lacks the tension and gore factor which this genre is fond of applying. Sarandon’s Hazel suffers from an unexplained back pain, drinks on the job, still pins for her ex-husband and has problems communicating with her mom. The story did a fantastic job showcasing Hazel as a troubled cop that the rest of the movie pales in comparison.  

Based on a novel by Inger Ash Wolfe and adapted for the screen by Scott Abramovitch, The Calling’s main theme is about salvation. Twelve people must be sacrificed in order for the chosen one to be reborn, a half-baked attempt on a potentially intriguing subject. The villain for one is revealed less than 15 minutes into the movie, a creepy lanky bearded man by the name of Simon (Christopher Heyerdahl) who claims to have the power to heal. Later on, Donald Sutherland appears for a brief moment as Father Price to explain to Hazel what’s behind the unorthodox ritual.

At this juncture, you might think I hate this movie a lot. In reality, I was quite caught up with Sarandon’s incredible performance and the surprisingly well-done cinematography of the bleak, cold landscapes than investing in the brutal crime. Yes, the movie about Christian faith and humanity is not enough to evoke chills. Don’t let me start on the anti-climax ending either. However for a Stage 6 title, it’s a good enough low-key flick to watch on the small screen.  


Divine Intention: Making The Calling is a 15 minutes making of feature that contains interviews with the filmmakers, cast and a look at the make-up effects.


Mild softness and grain are detected but overall visuals are acceptable. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack supplied is decent if not entirely underwhelming. 



Review by Linus Tee