Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Cellphone, with Malcolm McDowell on the Line

Wynne has a creepier ringtone than the ones in either the Japanese One Missed Call or the American remake. That rather makes sense, since she will be appearing in a cellular/wireless-themed horror movie. She definitely gets tired of hearing that evil ringing in Luke Sommer’s Cellphone, which releases today on VOD.

Wynne is traumatized by her husband’s untimely death. She blames herself, because she was behind the wheel. Since then, driving has been out of the question. To hide from the world, she accepted a gig house-sitting Bob’s old country home. He sure seems to burn through house-sitters, judging from the flashbacks.

Much to her alarm, she sees these grisly images too, on the screen of her smartphone. The sinister device seems to have an insistent mind of own. In fact, it is really starting to freak her out. On top of all that, Wynne must also deal with constant unannounced drop-in visits from Chris, an eccentric pseudo-handyman, who clearly is a little screwy. His sudden appearances somewhat unnerve her, but they also provide relief from her phone’s menacing behavior.

Cellphone just doesn’t quite work, but it features two very effective performances. Technically, Malcolm McDowell literally phones in his work as Bob, who is only heard as voice on the phone and occasionally seen via FaceTime. Nevertheless, there something aptly off about his ostensibly jocular tone.

Likewise, Justin Malik Jackson is all kinds of crazy as Chris, but in ways that are hard to pin down. The way he plays the character is a lot to take in, but not so much that it overwhelms the film. Consequently, both Jackson and McDowell reliably liven-up
Cellphone whenever they are on-screen.

Whitney Rose Pynn has a tough assignment as Wynne. She is fantastic during the wild eleventh hour, but for most of the film, Wynne’s moody depression dampens the film’s energy. That probably falls more on Sommer, whose execution is spotty.

Cellphone is too inconsistent to fully recommended. All horror fans have surely seen a lot of films that were a lot worse, but there are still plenty of better options for your streaming budget. For McDowell diehards, Cellphone releases today (2/13) on VOD.