The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Fatal Call (2012)
This is another in the group of films Kevin at MTI Video sent me, and was probably the one I was most excited to look at. It stars DTVC favorite Kevin Sorbo, personal favorite Danielle Harris, and a couple of other familiar faces in main star Jason London and the ubiquitous Lochlyn Munro. Let's see if it lived up to that excitement.
Fatal Call has London as a guy with a past from rural Illinois who moves to St. Louis to start a new life after a buddy gets him a job at a law firm. Things are looking even better when he meets Danielle Harris at a bar, and she gives him her number. Problem is: she has a husband, and he's abusive and controlling. Now she wants London to help her out, but when he goes to her place to pick her up, he finds her husband dead and he looks like the one who did it. Will he make it out of this mess alive?
I liked this. It was a pretty fun Noir-ish suspense flick, with a good cast and a decent story. My one main complaint was that London's character vacillated between aw-shucks-schmuck and quick-thinking-resourceful-you-picked-the-wrong-guy patsy, which made the plot move unevenly. For the most part though it hit the spots you'd want in this kind of film. Harris was great as the Black Widow type; we had fun detectives in Munro and his partner Srikant Chellapa; Sorbo was deviously sinister; and the plot maintained a good balance between tension and action. In fact, I loved the device of jumping us forward and back in the story, because it kept things from getting too gummed up with the plot exposition. All in all, it's not a bad deal.
Danielle Harris was a standout for me, and I was disappointed that she wasn't used more in the film. She seemed to understand what her character was supposed to be about, but unlike some Film Noir greats, like Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon or Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep, where we had this Black Widow character that we knew we couldn't trust, but also knew why our hero would take a chance on her and get himself in trouble, Harris's character, who's in their tradition, is woefully underutilized. She shows up, sleeps with London, then he's in trouble and she's out. We needed more intrigue here, with her seducing him and slowly pulling him into her web, and I know from what she did with her limited role, she could've pulled it off. Either way, it was definitely cool to see her get a non-Scream Queen part and hit it out of the park.
We all love Sorbo here at the DTVC, in particular his two films with Saint James St. James, Poolboy and FDR American Badass, so anytime we can get him back here is a good thing. He's the baddie, which is a great change of pace for the usual hero he plays. I've never really thought about it, but he's a pretty big guy, and can be pretty imposing. He's also the kind of actor that can have a lot of fun as the baddie, so it was good to see him get that chance. Like Harris, it's good to see him in anything, but also like Harris, it's good to see him try something beyond the norm and excel at it.
With these two paragraphs focusing on Harris and Sorbo, I don't want to take anything away from London as the star, because as an actor, he was good playing both the schmuck and the quick thinker that his character called for, it just felt off for me to be going from one to the other with no real reason for the transition. To be honest, it felt more fun to see him in the aw shucks role, and I could see myself falling for Harris's character if I were in the same circumstance, what with her batting her eyelashes and quoting Dostoevsky at him. Unlike his character though, I'd call the cops the moment her husband showed up and assaulted me, and would've avoided all the trouble he got into.
Finally, this is London's work buddy, played by Joel Lewis. Is this guy not the next veteran character actor Kevin Dunn? He even plays a part that had Kevin Dunn written all over it. Dunn has roughly 100 more imdb credits than Lewis, so Lewis has a long way to go, but if he can get to that Dunn level, I gotta say he'll have had a pretty successful career, including work with three Oscar winning directors. Here's to you Kevin Dunn, you're one of the great ones, and hopefully you'll get there someday too Joel Lewis.
All right, enough of that. As of this posting, Fatal Call won't be out on DVD in US markets for about a month (July 23rd). If you see it on Netflix or RedBox, I'd give it a look, especially if you're interested in some of the actors. A nice little Noirish suspense flick that doesn't overdo the plot, and keeps a good action and tension quotient.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2059193/