K-Movie Review: “The Call” Rings An Enthralling Narrative That Keeps Your Attention From Start To Finish

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It’s amazing how The Call plugs a virtual connection the moment you hit “play” on your Netflix screen!

Park Shin Hye and Jeon Jeong Seo take the viewers to a roller-coaster ride into their worlds happening instantaneously from different timelines in The Call.

The film threads on the story of Seo-yeon (Park Shin Hye), who after moving to an old family home, receives a call from a stranger named Young-sook (Jeon Jong Seo). She learns Young-sook lived in the same house she currently lives 20 years ago, and they become friends. As they call each other, they make risky choices that change each other’s lives drastically.


The Call Highlights *Spoiler Alert

A Thrilling Narrative

Met through a series of strange phone calls, Seo-yeon and Young-sook develop a bond that change their lives forever. Discovering their actions can change and implicate their existence in the different timelines they live, they start a friendship that unfortunately becomes awry.

Young-sook saving Seo-yeon’s father has been a dream came true for the latter. However, with her new life reimagined, she has slowly provided lesser time to Young-sook who has been receiving maltreatment from her step-mother.

From Seo-yeon’s tip of how she will die in the hands of her step-mom, Young-sook was able to save herself by killing her step-mom in the process. Enjoying her new-found freedom, the ominous warning of her step-mother about her causing life losses is proving to be true. After mutilating her step-mom and the poor strawberry farm owner, she learned from Seo-yeon that she will rot in jail for the killing she committed.

From there, their outwitting games begin; both of them waging their lives come hell or high water. Seo-yeon uses the details she can get from the investigation notes of the local police. Meanwhile, Young-sook creates a trusted ally – her future self.

Impressively keeping the thrill running while simultaneously connecting the lives of the main characters in the story makes The Call set a bait that reels the viewer to finish the film in one sitting. Aside from its enthralling run, its easy-to-follow narration is also noteworthy.

A Well-Decked Conflict & Climax

Funneled to the conflict of Seo-yeon’s quest to undo her connection to Young-sook; The Call grips attention with its smartly-pocketed pace. Establishing the friendship of the main characters, down to the favors they both gave each other; the film rivetingly culminates to ill intention harbored by Young-sook and Seo-yeon’s determination to protect herself and loved ones.

Accordingly, the movie’s conflict and climax go well convincingly. In the frames highlighting the parallel events happening in Seo-yeon and Young-sook’s present, past and future lives. It pushes any viewer to be at the edge of his seat at the sight of Seo-yeon’s helpless situation and feel scared of Young-sook’s menacing nature.

Superb heroine-villainess Showdown

Young-sook’s mind, though convoluted was such a good match to the quick-witted Seo-yeon who can rationalize things. An ability that her tortured friend-turned-enemy from 1999 does not have. However, Young-sook makes it up with determination that knows not how to compromise, that include wielding atrocities without regret.

Featuring women in a psychopath chase story was interestingly made more absorbing by Park Shin Hye and Jeon Jeong Seo. The heroine has a grit of her own to match the villainess who is twice dangerous owing to her mercurial temperament.

In an interview with Park Shin Hye, she mentioned initially turning down the movie. I’m glad she reconsidered because she powered a distinct role quite different from what her regular fans have seen so far on small and big screens.

Jeon Jeong Seo on the other hand easily suited to her role with utmost conviction. Her intricate characterization assures an impeccable recall for people who will know her for the first time in this film.

Individually, the two actresses colored their roles efficiently. Together, they match their characters mettle to an outsmarting game that inevitably stakes all they have to win.

The Call Movie Afterthoughts *Spoiler Alert

I was also surprised that I was held on my seat watching The Call in one sitting. Evidently, its thrilling ride piqued my interest that its hard not to watch its end game. Plus the fact that the female leads did not take the usual annoying girlish route.

Its fascinating narrative inescapably made me want to root for Seo-yeon, who got a glimpse of the dream life she wanted, only to be sent to a nightmare because of a phone call.

Understanding the events that brought about Young-sook’s wickedness can be traced to the disheartening life she suffered in the hands of her step-mom. Obviously, the step-mom who combines psychopath tendencies and shaman beliefs greatly influenced Young-sook’s nefarious nature.

The Call concludes with Seo-yeon surviving the attack from present-day Young-sook, who materialized after her old self destroyed the evidence that change the course of her prison-bound life.

Her life presented in grandiose flair of full blown psychopath killer displayed an array of refrigerators storing her kills. A successful nod to how she escalated from her awkward, but already dangerous murderer beginning, when she mutilated her step-mom and stored her inside the kitchen fridge.

For this film, it is important to note that the actions of Seo-yeon and Young-sook affect their lives, albeit living in different timelines. However, it pushed confounding moments with the placement of epilogue scenes.

the call

The baffling ending

After the climactic and heroic sacrifice of Seo-yeon’s mom, it showed Seo-yeon surviving and running to find her mother. Her bittersweet reunion with her mother appears to be a false reality to console her weary heart, which regrets failing to grant her mom’s request of being buried beside her husband.

The scene where they walk together and her mom vanishing in the picture proved the prophetic claim of how lives will be killed because of Young-sook. It was another epilogue snippet concurring to the evil step-mom’s warning.

Then, we see Seo-yeon trapped and imprisoned somewhere, suggesting she might have not been killed, but was just held hostage by Young-sook. Something that may connect to the tip from present-day Young-sook given to her 1999 counterpart to hold on to the phone no matter what for them to survive. It also agrees to the scene of Young-sook opening her eyes amidst a pool of blood her head lays on from falling together with Seo-yeon’s mother.

Hence, the ending is really confusing if Seo-yeon solely survived; or both she and Young-sook managed to stay alive. This is the only thing I can’t help but nit-pick on, because it was easy to close the story neatly right there and then. Young-sook dying because of Seo-yeon’s mom’s sacrifice is a satisfying way to seal the conclusion landing on a good prevails evil note.

the call

Film Takeaways + Recommendation

As I usually take away the relevant messages when I review films and dramas. I can only arrive at two lessons. First, to cherish our parents wishes, especially if it’s not hard to begin with. Because hey, we might not get another chance to dote on things that they specifically request.

Second, to be always wary of creating friendship. Seo-yeon and Young-sook clicked on so fast, until they start devaluing each other because of owed favors, they demand to be returned. Never estimate someone’s friendship value based on what they have done for you.

Even now, I can’t reconcile what the ending of The Call was trying to achieve when it was easy to close the story neatly following its deftly limned story. Nonetheless, it is still a good watch for me. The puzzling closure does not demerit the scintillating drive of its narrative.

Photos/Videos: Netflix