Haunted Honeymoon

Film Review: Call Back (2009)

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SYNOPSIS:

After trying to seduce a naĂŻve young actress, an overly cocky young horror director has the tables turned on him when the actress and her girlfriend restrain him and proceed to torture him in the same manner he had tortured people in the film that made him famous.

REVIEW:

As most horror enthusiasts know, helpless, attractive young women often dominate the victim market. Trembling, sweaty, scantily-clad, and typically promiscuous women find themselves bound, stripped, and at the mercy of a dubious psychotic killer (usually male), a killer with no other intention other than to inflict pain and satisfy an inexplicable sadistic appetite. After all, female sociopaths are a proven rarity. And as a true lover of gore-filled cinema, scenes of creative violence and buckets of squirting, bright blood satisfy my disturbing inner need to relish in the comically gruesome. However, as a woman, it is often frustrating to consistently internalize scenes of aimless torture inflicted upon women by faceless men.

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The documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated (released in 2006) discusses the overwhelmingly disproportionate ratio of violence shown towards women versus men in media. For example, a woman expressing orgasmic pleasure or displaying violence towards men is much more likely to undergo censorship versus if the gender roles were reversed. Thus, movie audiences are more accustomed to seeing women as victims of rape, torture, and murder.

But then Call Back came along…and oh, how it satiated all my delightfully demented desires. Sure, we’ve seen some wonderfully twisted women getting their psycho on—Audition, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I Spit on Your Grave, and Run Bitch Run are a few of many gems demonstrating the feminine capacity for inventive cruelty. However, these movies almost always infallibly feature a long-winded scene or two of wildly graphic rape. Sure, the revenge tastes sweet, but we had to swallow a painfully bitter pill in the beginning, as we probably had to watch innocent women be treated like a combination between a punching bag and a blow-up doll. Now, Call Back does feature a rape of the revenger—but the scene is incredibly short, and unlike the glorious scalpel game of tic-tac-toe, the audience isn’t actually shown the rape, we only hear it, distorted at that, and from the perspective of a movie within a movie—as if to say its only purpose is to convey a point and establish part of the plot. In other words, it’s there just because it has to be in order to make an explanation. It’s not just horror, it’s rape and revenge, but without the uncomfortable rape, and all of the fulfilling aspects of watching properly executed vengeance.

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Now, onto what makes this film so disturbingly and amazingly satisfying, enter Levi, the first main character to appear. He’s hosting an audition for a good set of lungs. But despite every wide-eyed and big-breasted candidate’s efforts to impress the big-name Hollywood horror film director, Levi’s not impressed. As each girl fails to impressively scream, one starts to get the sense that Levi isn’t the nicest of guys. As a matter of fact, he’s your stereotypical trust-fund, arrogant, misogynist douche. We know this from right when he prematurely judges sexy Russian sleuth Sonia as being too slutty (a judgment founded on no logical basis). Then Meadow walks in, whom for some reason, to Levi, comes off as much less slutty. Her screams sound like gas burning out, a thunderous start that ends like a prepubescent kid whose balls haven’t quite yet dropped. Yet, despite delivering a pathetic scream (nowhere near on par with Sonia’s), Levi tells Meadow, “You’ve got what it takes to be a star,” and then promptly invites her back to his place later in the evening for a “screen test.” Whelp, we all know where this is going…

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Or do we? Once Meadow gets to Levi’s, the douchebaggery only deepens. Look at me, look at my stuff, gosh you have the prettiest eyes, now let me whip out my camera—

But then the turn comes…and Meadow asks for the camera, jerking it away, giggling, and filming an increasingly pissed-off Levi. Meltdown in one, two, three—

Levi wakes up to long legs in knee-high black boots—a weapon in her hand, and a gas mask on her face. Levi lays down before her, trapped in the same vices he used in his movie, the irony only blossoms from here. Out comes Meadow with a sinister grin, and off comes the mask to reveal Sonia—beautiful is the only proper way to describe the aesthetic in this scene. We all know how it goes from here. Levi pleads for mercy, hopes to talk sense into the girls, and is even stupid enough to think that he talked Sonia into letting him go. “And you think I no act good,” priceless words from Sonia.

The lovers find a box full of filmed rapes and child pornography, details that only make feeling sympathy for Levi that much harder. During his last moments, the girls tweeze his face, play tic-tack-toe with a scalpel on his stomach, mutilate his hands, nail his wrists on the wall in crucifix fashion, and discuss the merits of bacon as a movie-watching condiment (before pouring the grease onto him). All the while, we are entertained by the rich, smooth sounds of classical compositions, channeling A Clockwork Orange. My biggest complaint, when playing tic-tack-toe, you’re supposed to cross your winning row with a line ladies, tsk, tsk, tsk.

The movie was obviously low budget. The close-up of Levi’s hands being torn and nailed reveals a rather squishy-like, rubbery prosthetic hand. Also, more torture could have been seen. For instance, you only see Meadow’s grimacing face as she pulls Levi’s finger from his hand in an effort to literally tear it off. However, despite these complaints, the film delivered something that so few horror films do—the chance to watch the machismo, rich, sexist tool nailed like your savior. For any woman that was a victim of sexual abuse, it’s the ultimate fantasy panned out on the screen. For, we can only assume by Levi’s attitude that the victims in his movie were all female. As previously stated, the irony is truly rich and poetic. As Levi cries and shouts in pain and horror while hoisted up, the girls practice their screams, and we get a flashback to Sonia’s audition. A full circle, ending on the girls incinerating Levi’s bourgeois mansion and ending their typical Saturday night to go and plan their next victim’s demise. Hope there’ll be more bacon.

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About Caitlin Huggins

Caitlin, an English graduate searching for purpose in a chaotic millennial world, has adored horror movies since the days of VHS and movie rental stores. When not watching delightfully tasteless horror, she enjoys weaving her own through the dated method of short storytelling. One day, if enough suitable virgins are sacrificed, she hopes to be published and continue spreading the gorrific love.

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