Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Crank Call of Death: Don't Hang Up (2017)

Don't Hang Up (2017)
Rating: **
Starring: Gregg Sulkin, Garrett Clayton, Bella Dayne

Ah, prank calls. You either hate them or love them, right?

I've been a victim of prank calls for numerous occasions, but there were times that I too pranked a few people who wronged me, the best of which being that one prank caller who repeatedly phoned my former job just to shout and berate my colleagues about what practically is a TV model he made up. He did this for weeks until he made a mistake of talking to me and I ended up keeping him on the line for an hour and a half, giving him phony instructions for his "model" and a fake case number that basically spelled out "fuck you" in numbers. (6-21-3-11-21 in case you are wondering)

Bottom-line, it's fun if you're on the calling end and probably safe too if your victim doesn't happen to be a masked killer planning to hold you hostage inside your own house while he slaughters your friends and family. If the latter is the case, then it'll probably be a good thing if you don't post your prank calls on Youtube which would likely have your social media contacts on them that said maniac can use to track you down.

I think you know where I'm going with this.

Don't Hang Up follows two friends, Sam and Brady, enjoying a day by themselves eating pizzas, talking about one's relationship problems with a certain girl and recording prank calls for their Youtube channel. One call, of course, suddenly goes curveball at them when the man on the other end appears to know them and is aware that they are alone. At first, the boys dismiss the caller as either a friend pulling a fast one on them or just your classic weirdo being, well, weird. That is until the caller found a way to broadcast himself to their TV as he murders their friends and family, threatening to kill more unless either Sam or Brady disposes the other for an injustice they committed some time ago.

Now, I really wanted to like Don't Hang Up. It's not a fresh idea, not with movies like I Saw What You Did (your choice of 1965 or 1988) and 2001's Joyride beating this to the prank callers-in-peril plot, but I can tell Don't Hang Up has the potential to be a decent (AKA "okay-ish") psychological teen thriller if only it handled its premise a lot better than it did.

Once in a while, Don't Hang Up succeeds in delivering something grim as a few scenes and twists were fairly shocking for a B-grade teen slasher that features very little onscreen bloodletting and barely any workable star power. I like how the killer creepily lords over our two main leads into possibly killing one another and I especially like how satisfyingly dark the ending is, however these scenes are little in numbers and unsurprisingly didn't do much to make up for the tired and predictable mash that is unfortunately this movie's plot, as it takes elements from the aforementioned Joyride, 2014's Unfriended, Saw (2003) and any run-in-the-mill slasher and then hardly, if not doing nothing else to challenge or elevate these elements into something better and worthwhile.

The writing also have Don't Hang Up noticeably lacking any likable or at least interesting characters, as well as be repeatedly punctured with plot holes and typical dumb horror movie choices which made its sluggish pacing more of a challenge to watch. Yes, it did try kicking itself back alive around the last act, but by then it's pretty much too late and I find myself barely caring at all on what will happen to the two idiots who, also by then and as cruel as it sounds, really deserve what's coming to them.

To simply put it, the resulting finished product resembles a teen horror-cum-cautionary tale that tries to be intense and edgy but ultimately ends up being a forgettable timewaster as it shows very little workable material, either new or old. If you want to see Don't Hang Up, you're not missing much but who am I to stop you? Watch it if you like, but I may suggest preparing a good movie to see right after it, though...

1 male smothered with a plastic bag
1 male found with a bag wrapped over his head, bled to death from a neck wound
1 male and1 female found slaughtered
1 male knifed on the chest
1 girl shot (flashback)
1 female shot (flashback)
1 female shot on the head
Total: 8

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