2014, Movies

The Calling (2014, Jason Stone)

I do not believe in god but I recognize that a lot of people still do. And I recognize that there is a broad appeal in movies with explicit or implicit religious content. Despite my lack of belief I do occasionally find religious horror films and thrillers quite effective, in part because the rich traditions and symbolism they draw from and also there’s such broad appeal in stories about Catholicism, even if I hate the church itself and cannot understand how anyone could still be a catholic in the 21st century.


This is an interesting spin on the serial killer genre, with Sarandon playing a pretty stereotypical cop – a drunk, unappreciated, small town detective – but offering a new spin on this cliche.

The story itself is pretty typical religious arcana, and I have no idea if it’s actually based in real ancient Christian beliefs or not. But the story is well told, with the particular logic of a good serial killer movie, where everything unfolds in a way that follows its own internal logic. Though it is a very, very different film fromĀ Se7en, it does remind me a bit of that story in terms of how the dictates of the religious arcana are a puzzle to be worked out by the detectives.

There are a few things that don’t work that well, including how long it takes for the other police agencies to get involved in what is a national manhunt, and there are a few things that don’t really work that well for a Canadian audience familiar with Canadian geography, but I feel like this is nitpicking.

Though we’ve seen a lot of these films before, with so this type of story so well, trodden, this mostly works as a decent twist on it, with a female detective instead of a male, with a small town in Canada instead of the US, and enough new takes on a tired genre that it’s pretty refreshing, in addition to being entertaining in that way that serial killer movies are.

But, there is that denouement, which I cannot help but greatly dislike, given my own personal beliefs, which I believe to be correct. (That being said, a religious thriller is going to be a religious thriller.)


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