top of page


The Call

average rating is 3 out of 5


William Hemingway


Posted on:

May 4, 2024

Film Reviews
The Call
Directed by:
Riffy Ahmed
Written by:
Vanessa Rose
Jo Martin, Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn

On the off chance that you don’t already know this, let me give you a little bit of backstory:


The asteroid Apophis – designation 99942 – is a near Earth asteroid with a diameter of 370 metres which was classed as a potentially hazardous object, in astronomical terms, when initial observations in 2004 suggested a 2.7% probability that it would hit the Earth in the Spring of 2029. The asteroid was named after the Greek god of chaos and undoing, who was in turn a representation of the Egyptian god, Apep – The Lord of Chaos, who embodied darkness and disorder. As is the way of these things, the geeky scientists who discovered and named the asteroid were also big fans of the classic sci-fi show Stargate-SG1, where an alien named Apophis was the main antagonist and the greatest threat to life on Earth. There’s no need to worry though because the asteroid was downgraded fairly quickly and is now known to have no chance of impacting the Earth in the next hundred years. Phew!


In the short film The Call, from director Riffy Ahmed and writer Vanessa Rose, one of the main characters, Cora (Martin) has found herself to be completely distracted by what she thinks is the appearance of Apophis in the sky. Cora’s daughter Athena (St. Aubyn), on the other hand, just can’t get on board with such outlandish stories and feels that her mother is entering into a slow, steady mental decline in her twilight years.


When we first meet Athena, she is on her way to her mum’s flat in an inner-city tower block. Athena’s mum hasn’t been answering her phone and it seems likely that she has forgotten about the rendezvous they had arranged the week before. As she approaches the door of the flat, Athena sees that the mail hasn’t been collected for some time and is overflowing out of the letterbox. When she is finally let inside things don’t look any better, with clutter everywhere and the curtains drawn, and Athena soon discovers that her mother has taken the double precaution of leaving the phone’s receiver off the hook as well as unplugging it from the wall. In her perceived mania, Cora explains that the phone had been ringing all night and she was not ready to deal with whoever was on the other end of the line.


As Athena tries to get out of her mother just what is going on, and subsequently finds an eviction notice, the two women discuss their relationship over the years and a host of cross-matched feelings are brought to the fore. It’s clear that there’s always been a lot of love between the two characters, and despite Cora’s distracted demeanour and Athena’s obvious frustration, the entire scenario within the small flat is completely filled with warmth and tenderness.


Everything in The Call is conveyed with a sumptuous attention to light and to colour, with Pep Bosch’s cinematography and Riffy Ahmed’s direction keeping the inside scenes close while allowing the outside shots to appear expansive. The jazzy rhythms from composer Joe Stevenson match up with Cora’s mania perfectly but also know when to calm down and become gentle as the relationship between mother and daughter takes precedence. Similarly, the performances from Jo Martin and Amarah-Jae St Aubyn allude to a history and a certain quiet knowing from the characters while they both try to deal with the current situation from their own perspectives.


There’s a lot to recommend The Call to the viewer as it plays out its small family drama with a twist. Unfortunately, the twist is telegraphed all too early on and when it does come along it’s barely any surprise at all, with an underwhelming costume change to boot. The family dynamics, which are really the heart of the film, never get explored fully and it’s hard to understand why Vanessa Rose decided to aim for the denouement that she did. The Call runs like any regular relationship drama with a throughline that’s pretty easy to spot where it’s going, which when the story clearly has elements that should suggest that it’s anything but run-of-the-mill, becomes slightly unsatisfying despite its feelgood factor.

About the Film Critic
William Hemingway
William Hemingway
Short Film
bottom of page