Directed by: Ryan Jafri
Written by: Ryan Jafri, Ben Woodiwiss
Starring: Tom Martin, Alex Hebert
The Call Short Film Review
Tom Martin plays a man being subjected to a thorough grilling over the phone by a menacing voice (Alex Herbert) that represents “the firm”. Pleasing his boss is not going to be easy, though, as time is ticking by and it seems as if someone may be sabotaging his efforts.
Told with a strong noir style, short film The Call utilises some classic cinematic tropes to immerse the viewer into this dark mystery. The boxy aspect ratio dates the film immediately, allowing the audience to recognise the story is set in the past (1965 to be specific). Presented in black and white, the tone of the film is aligned perfectly with the tone of the plot - creating a wonderfully brooding and suspicious atmosphere to be engulfed by - our desire to see our protagonist succeed and to find out who is undermining him is heightened by this stylistic choice. Supported, furthermore, by a creepy and unsettling score that will unnerve even the hardiest of viewers.
“A man on his phone” can often be a risky structure for a film, even one with just a 13-minute running time. There is a serious prospect that audiences will get bored with just one actor and an unseen voice. With The Call, writers Ryan Jafri (who also directs) and Ben Woodiwiss know how to keep us glued to the unfurling conflict between the two characters, using enough menace and mystery in the dialogue to keep things interesting and ensuring the captivating filmmaking enhances the experience.
This is then assisted by a great onscreen performance by Martin, who is able to display the anxiety and peril of his character brilliantly through nervous speaking and uncomfortable body language.
The main shortfalling of The Call seems to be an underdeveloped storyline. If this is a proof of concept for a bigger film then it’s fine but as a short film, the surprise ending doesn’t feel enough after being invested in the mystery and great filmmaking previously. Audiences may feel a little short-changed by such a swift conclusion to the piece. That being said, the first rule of showbiz is always to leave them wanting more and that is definitely the case with The Call. The menacing voice on the phone may also seem a little ott. The film manages to create a really classy vibe and this villainous approach threatens to derail it into cartoonishness.
Fans of the noir genre and classic filmmaking will be in their element with The Call. It has a ton of strong points and manages to make exceptional use of some great stylistic choices and simple story elements. A great solo performance (on-screen) makes for a worthwhile adventure into a fiery business call.