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Reviews The Call a.k.a. Kol (2020), Don't Listen a.k.a. Voces (2020) and The Vigil (2019)

genre: mystery, thriller, horror

This Saturday night I was feeling like watching several horror films. While technically The Call is a thriller it easily could be considered a horror. So that is why it's included. Anyway, I really thought I had a bunch of winners on my hand. And in some ways the films do remarkable things. However none of them had given me a satisfying viewing experience. 


The Call a.k.a. Kol (2020)

Starting with The Call a.k.a. Kol (2020), not to be confused with The Call (2020) featuring Tobin Bell or The Call (2013) with Halle Berry. That one I can recommend since it delivers on high tension and thrills. 

The Call actually starts out pretty intriguing. And while it's concept is not entirely new, the way it's handled is one that had a real potential to truly innovative events. For a while it seemed to be delivering on these. However then the film spiraled out of control in favour of a character you hardly could root for. Our main character Kim Seo-yeon is likable at first but soon you will resent her for being infinitely stupid. If she were the only one then maybe I could have lived with it. However almost every character except the antagonist is dumb beyond words. But Kim Seo-yeon tops all. Why? Because she is the first to figure out something pretty significant. Then completely loses all of her wit and intelligence making you wonder how she managed to figure out anything. Even when it stares her in the face she can't seem to comprehend what just had happened. This infuriated me so much that it became real hard to root for her let alone enjoy the film. 

The ending left me indifferent especially since it was one of those where you are forced to accept one definite outcome. And in this case simply doesn't offer a fun conclusion. 

A real shame that nothing more creative and imaginative had been done with the premise. A cat and mouse play between the antagonist and Kim Seo-yeon would have made the film more fun. Now it's just boring when one of them clearly has the upper hand every time.

Don't Listen a.k.a. Voces (2020)

After the disappointment that was The Call, I had hope that Voces at least would offer me some old school horror creepiness. And it had me going for 50 minutes or so. 

While Voces is trying hard to avoid random jump scares it doesn't manage to instill a real sense of fear or dread. Seeing shadows in the background does add to the creepiness. But rarely are they scary or terrifying. Some of the events are quite disturbing and yet they hardly had an impact on me. It's not the cast. They did a good job taking the material serious. However it's the utter predictability that completely destroys the viewing experience. Yes, even the supposed edgy twist at the end. Don't get me wrong, it was a nice variation on how things usually would play out. Then again if you think about it does make sense considering the evil entities being a little limited in the way they can act physically. 

Is it a complete waste of time? I think yes. Haunted movies or similar should frighten you to death. Whether it's through brilliant storytelling or whether it's through consistent dread and never ending tension. Voces simply fails to do this effectively.

The Vigil (2019)

From all the films this looked like it was going to be the most creative and original due to Jiddish culture playing a large role. 

In hindsight though it's just as bland or deep you want it to be. There is enough there to enforce the pretension. At the same time it lacks the elements to truly make it stand out from similar horror films. Compared to the previous film The Vigil certainly is far more creepy and scary since it's scary moments are very effective. But what really kills the enjoyment is the fact that at one point it's painfully obvious where the journey is going. That guilt is an important theme was almost a given but that it would be the only theme explored makes this film incredibly lacking. Perhaps if The Vigil wasn't so blatant about it then this exploration would have had a bigger impact. However it did and while I could appreciate the narrative it simply didn't offer what I wanted today.

I like to be challenged. But if that's not possible then at least put the fear of god in me. None of the films today managed to do this. Since most of the time they couldn't deliver on what is promised. And I wasn't really asking that much. I don't mind cliches and repetition as long as it is entertaining. But that is just it. None of these films did that. Also if short films (90 minutes) feel like they take forever that should be the first clue that the direction isn't as good as it should be. The pacing in all the three films is horrendous. Setting up atmosphere and creepy vibe is something I applaud. But then you need to make sure that's all there is. Don't put in a plot element or visual cue that will distract you from that. In The Vigil there is a moment the main character runs outside. Then things happen. What does he do? He returns to the home where the bad events started happening? Sure theme wise it makes sense. However logically speaking it doesn't. Why would you return to a place that makes you feel super uncomfortable or even scares the hell out of you. Of course I understand the notion of confronting your fears. Except the main character had never shown any bravado before. Now suddenly he decides to do what's right? Why? This part never gets motivated or explained and it's one of the points that I consider weak. Had they for example shown a sequence or scene where somebody tells him to man up or tell him that he needs to try his best to move on then yes, dramatically speaking his actions after would be logical and more impacting. Now it's just something you will have to accept.  

Overall The Vigil can offer something for you if you don't watch horror films often. If you are an avid watcher like me this simply won't do. It simply doesn't deliver and certainly doesn't have the impact it should.

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