It probably won’t surprise anyone who has seen the shocking lay-out of this blog that I am not great with technology. I have a massive blockage in that area of my brain that stubbornly refuses to learn, understand and retain information of a technological nature. Which, given my mention in my last review of my lack the same principles applying to science and maths, truly does make me a very stupid individual. I’m still trying to decide where I stand on the VHS VS Betamax debate and I still think Twitter primarily as a place people talk about what they just ate for lunch and what they are planning to eat for dinner. As long as my phone will text and ring folk everything else it does is an annoying irrelevance. This brings us to mobile phones as a device in modern horror films. The new cliché of “Damn, I’ve got no phone signal. Now we’re trapped in this isolated location with a maniac”. Every time a character utters this in a horror film I always roll my eyes in irritation. On the other hand, if they didn’t mention it, the audience would be shouting “Use your mobile phone to call for help!” at the screen. Mobiles (and other technology) as evil objects (or more usually, as harbingers of death for the unfortunate users) is also becoming a rapidly going stale trope. So I guess what I’m saying is maybe a little more imagination with the mobile phone angle would be nice. Speaking of imagination, or the complete and utter lack of it there-of, I introduce you to the film I am going to be looking at today, When Evil Calls.
Isn’t This Just One Of The Worst DVD Covers You’d Ever Seen?
The film manages to do the near impossible and give not one, but two shockers just during the title sequence; Chris Barrie and Sean Pertwee are both in this thing! Both genuinely talented British actors whose work I enjoy. Could it be this will actually be a passable film that won’t manage to annoy me in the next minute? Ooh, so close. My hackles are raised when Sean Pertwee’s character is listed as ‘The Janitor’. We don’t have janitors in this country, we have caretakers. A minor niggle perhaps, but I never claimed to not be a nit-picky bastard (that’s basically the whole point of this, and indeed, most film blogs).
The film starts with the POV of a random pupil at a random school, apparently called Guggenheim. Sean Pertwee’s ‘janitor’ is giving him a nice old fashioned pep talk. He has all the bashful charm of Freddy Krueger pre-painful firey death at the hands of vengeful parents. And as is usual in high school, popularity is the only things teenagers care about, and everything else is just small potatoes. But being popular comes with a price, warns Pertwee. Yeah, we know, pretty much every high school film since the dawn of time has the bullying jocks get their comeuppance at the end. Sean Pertwee has a story to tell though, and he’s determined to masticate his way through it, so he takes us back to the glamorous location of Willburn Hall 6th Form College, or 666th Form College, as some young rapscallion has defaced the sign. Are we sure this isn’t St Trinians?
The popular kids at Willburn Hall 6th Form College can be sought out straight away, as they’re ones who smoke and don’t wear their ties. Take that society! The first line someone says that isn’t Sean Pertwee is really badly delivered (this is a situation we should all get used to). But it’s one of the unpopular people, so what do we care? Her mate doesn’t care either and runs away from her at as soon as possible, maybe so she doesn’t catch bad acting. Ooh, too late. This girl not having fun at school, the hottest boy doesn’t know she exists and the school bitch is mean to her. Life is just, like, so unfair! Fucks sake, this is a film or the problem pages of Just Seventeen magazine?
Actually, This Guy Looks Like He Might Know A Thing Or Two About Demon Clowns. (Also, Fucking Hell, You Used To Be Able To Buy A Magazine For 47p!)
Whatever such magazines used to publish as advice, I very much doubt they included crying in her bedroom and breaking her mobile phone, then making a wish leading to a fuck off massive scary clown to appear. I feel like I’ve suddenly stumbled into a League Of Gentlemen skit. He fixes her phone and she gets a wish, via text message. For her wish to come true she must forward the text onto two other people. ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ ends the message. As if the fuck off massive scary clown wasn’t reason enough for caution and restraint. And, oh yes, maybe deleting the message because there is a special circle in Hell for those who forward on fucking annoying chain texts/emails. Our heroine, Samantha, is taking the whole accidentally conjuring up a fuck off massive scary clown thing remarkably well, and wishes for (duh) to be popular.
You’ve Got The Right Idea Green Man. This Film Is Awful, Head For The Hills!
Back to Sean Pertwee briefly and the cameraman seems determined to stick the camera actually up his nose, so close we are to his face. This thing is being told in episodes, so we know exactly how much left of this awfulness there is to go. And we are treated to Sean Pertwee trying very hard to demolish his credibility inbetween each chapter.
This whole set up happened remarkably quickly, Samantha doesn’t question anything about the clown, not even a raised eyebrow, she just wishes, and the next day it seems to being coming true. The popular kids compliment here and take her under their well-manicured wing, leaving her only friend in the dust with all the callousness that only teenagers can really do properly. Only Friend has a scary face, I think she might be the clown. Samantha loves being popular, she smiles and laughs her way through chemistry. The teacher, who seems to be roughly 4 years older than the actors playing her pupils, warn them about the danger of burning their skin off with what she says is acid, I think it might be Hulk drool. Only Friend (her name has not been imparted to us) gets the wish text message as she enviously mopes over her lack of good looks. Even though Samantha surely texted her last night, she is only receiving it now. She wishes to be prettier than bitch girl Victoria. And maybe how to swish her hair and fake laugh more convincingly than Victoria too if we’re lucky.
She is immediately told she is pretty by one of the popular girls (if it makes you feel any better, Only Friend, she has really stupid eyebrows and hat), ‘Pretty fucking ugly’ popular girl re-joins cruelly, ooh, burn. Literally as it turns out, she pushes Eyebrows girl and the acid gets splashed into Victoria’s face. Terrible, terrible special effects ensue. And do all her many and varied friends rush to her aid? Do they bollocks. They actively run away from her, looking distinctly unimpressed, like they might catch Horribly Disfigured Disease by standing too close to her.
Dog Soldiers Suddenly Seems Like So Long Ago.
Back to Sean Pertwee, who is still mugging gloriously for the camera, probably to make up for the lack of acting in the rest of the film. The next kid to get the text, he tells us, was called Neville, which by the law of averages and 1970s stereotypes automatically means he’s painfully uncool. Poor Neville seems to have the actual plague, which means he should be in quarantine, not high school. Eyebrows girl teases him, likening his face to a margherita pizza. Surely pepperoni would be more accurate. He gets the text, and wishes for clear skin. What he gets is trapped in a bin by Eyebrows, where he is joined by a rat, which eats his face. Might have to check with David Attenborough, but fairly sure rats don’t do that. And even so, it’s one rat. Could easily tear that off your face and break its neck. Hey, I love animals, but if it’s a face eating rat or me, I know which side I’d take.
Fat kid is next on the list. All kids in this film look slightly mentally challenged. Fat kid is followed round by this little charvy kids who laugh at him for being fat. Is following someone around all day laughing at them for being fat, really any less sad than the ‘crime’ of being fat in the first place? No time to ponder such whimsy though, as he wishes to be thin and is promptly squished by a car.
The detectives show up to investigate the sudden run of nasty accidents and death at the school, they will be entirely useless. And incredibly racist, in terms of both the writing of the character and the character himself, which is almost impressive. The older, drunken French policeman (who no one can understand so his partner has to translate for him) thinks it’s funny to strike Kung Fu poses because the headmaster – and let’s hear it for Chris Barrie, slumming it like a trooper – is married to someone from the East. These two are like characters from the Viz comic.
Maybe Someone Just Suggested Stepping Up To Red Alert (After all It Does Mean Changing The Bulb).
Eyebrows girl doesn’t take kindly to a geek who received the text and made a wish to kiss her foxy girlfriend Molly so she goes all American History X and smashes his face in against a step. This girl clearly has serious mental problems and shouldn’t be allowed in society, at least not until she sorts those eyebrows out. Molly just stands there and watches, like a big passive lemon who is trying to play a 17 year old but is clearly in her mid-20s.
Her Fashion Inspiration Is Billie Piper In The 1990s And SHE’S One Of The Popular Kids?
Girls play basketball, wearing tiny skirts which are surely not regulation. I’m making that sound a lot sexier than it is. But, if that does get your juices flowing, wait until you hear what’s next. That’s right, Naked Basketball! All thanks to a loser who wishes for X-Ray vision. It back fires however, when he also sees his middle aged teacher naked is dragged to the headmaster, and we are all treated to the sight of topless Chris Barrie. Considering the unpleasant way the other wishes has turned out, I’d say he got off pretty fucking lucky.
Charlie likes to cheat; he is taking a biology exam. Charlie gets the text, and strangely his phone isn’t automatically removed and he isn’t kicked out. He wishes to see into the brainy brain of Ross, so he can cheat off him and then we get a glimpse into the tortured mind of Ross. He is convinced he will fail the exam and let his parents down so he kills himself instead by jamming two pencils in his nose and head butting the desk. Seems reasonable. It’s no wonder he couldn’t do the exam, his head is full of high quality cut beef, as opposed to actual brain matter. No one cares about this kid killing himself by the way. These teenagers take disinterest in the world around them to new levels.
We cut back to Victoria in hospital, her face still knacked up from the acid mishap earlier. She gets the text and wishes for her beauty back. Weird her severe acid burns don’t need bandages. As she and her mother leave the hospital, her mother lets go of Victoria’s wheelchair. Victoria merrily rolls out into the middle of the road, doing nothing to prevent her fate. Even if she didn’t know how to apply the brakes on the wheelchair, her legs still fucking work and she could have easily leapt for safety. But since that would involve actual brain power she gets hit and killed by a car instead. Some bizarre 70s exploitation music kicks in and we’re back to the detectives, talking to a creepy looking doctor about the latest death, Victoria’s naked and bloodied body in the background. But creepy doctor seems to be turned on by this, so it’s all fine. Victoria has been restored to her former beauty and has been buried in her school uniform, as I’m sure she would have wanted. Creepy doctor is still after her. Maybe the detectives should be investigating him.
Eating disorder girl next. She also (all together now) receives a text message and makes a wish. To lose half a stone, which she promptly does, down the food disposal unit. Well, sort of, she loses half an arm, and I don’t think an arm on her emaciated body would weigh half a stone. She bleeds to death and dies on the scales. So many needless deaths, and I can’t bring myself to care about any of them.
Eyebrows Girl, who somehow is still at the school instead of jail despite caving another students face in, has a serious snogging session with Molly in the hallway, ‘I wish I was good enough to eat’ sighs random perving girl wistfully. Cue text message. All these students own the same make of phone. Eyebrows Girl seems to have physic abilities, as she can somehow mind read what the wish is and then make a devastating put down play on words based around the wish at the expense of the wish maker, which the students only ever say in voiceover. So very stupid. Molly eats random girl. Literally, in case you’re dense and missed the sublime subtext going on there, or were hoping for some sexy schoolgirl time.
The Remake Of Antropophagus: The Beast Went For The Sexy Angle.
Chris Barrie seems to be a totally different film to the rest of them, which probably some form of psychological defence to the reality he’s appearing his this waste of celluloid (where’s a Despair Squid when you really need one?). First he refuses to close the school as ‘students are always killing themselves’, and now when he finds a discarded arm in the school corridor he simply throws it in a bin without breaking his stride. I think he thinks he’s in a black comedy, as opposed to a black hole.
Samantha has suffered no bad effects from her wish and has taken her new popular boyfriend, Daniel home for dinner with her parents (the headmaster and his wife). Daniel is obviously terribly dull; because the best conversation he can up with is that he got a text message today offering him a wish. And? I get texts telling me I’ve got £3,000 to claim for the accident I had all the time, I don’t tell people about them, even I’m not that socially backwards. Daniel says he wished for his step-father not to be dead. The doorbell rings. Guess who? Zombie Dad! Samantha clubs him back to death with a golf club, this is getting so fucking stupid. Chris Barrie is the only good thing about this scene for the look of utter distainment on his face throughout the entire bit.
The series of death wishes continue on. One girl (once again, and I thought I was shallow) wishes for good looks and is burned with some really bad CGI fire. A girl catches her boyfriend getting a blow job from Molly and wishes ‘to never see you again’, she promptly falls, eyes first, onto a pair of scissors. Sean Pertwee has a brief mental breakdown, I’m not sure how much of it is acting. This film is certainly keeping a fast pace, maybe so the audience doesn’t notice how awful it is.
Can I Wish For The Seventy Six Minutes Of My Life I Spent Watching This Back Please? Or A Pony.
The background music to Firefly seems to be playing when the Twice Racist detective wakes up. He looks as gutted to be in the film as I am watching it. He gets his flash of inspiration by happening to own a huge book called ‘The Modern Djinn. Genies of the 21st Century’. There was really enough genie activity during this time to warrant a book the size of the Oxford English Dictionary? This is one informative book, it sums up the entire plot in one paragraph (hang on though, not sure this film’s plot warrants a whole paragraph) the modern genie scorns magic lamps and prefers text message instead. In order to stop the horror the original wisher must retract their wish and all must return to normal. This means Samantha must retract her wish of popularity and go back to being a loser.
Girl seduces teacher, Yuk. She deserves points for trying to make verbs sexy I guess. This teacher is clearly a sexual beast though, as the female teacher wants to fuck him too. Grim, very grim. Spurned girl makes a wish I can’t hear what. I complain about this a lot, hope it means people can’t enunciate anymore, as opposed to me getting old. Speaking off getting old, I think that is what she wished, so she turns into a skeleton, in yet another example of not as good as Knightmare special effects.
Samantha has, to utilise the correct spelling of the word, nightmares about fuck off massive scary clowns, and decides she has to tell the police about what’s she done. Ordinarily going to the fuzz in these sorts of films leads to be laughed out the police station in embarrassment, but since the police are going all with the same deranged thoughts I guess it makes a kind of sense. She creeps downstairs to ring the police, but fuck off massive scary clown-genie crawls after her. I usually find clowns frightening but here I here can’t muster the energy. She changes her mind about confessing when Daniel rings her, at 3 in the fucking morning by the way, to remind her about a super cool party that’s happening this weekend.
Sean Pertwee is a veritable fountain of bad puns -‘Clown on her luck’, ‘Full scream ahead’, ‘die-lema’, ‘Eye-Fright’. I can feel my faith in humanity crumbling. No time for puns though, there’s lesbian sex to be had, between Molly and Eyebrows, whose name I finally catch, Kristy. ‘I wish me and Molly were together until we die’. They slip in the shower and break their necks, or stab each other with broken glass or something, and they die, and are together forever, in a slightly My Chemical Romance fashion, but still.
The Racist In Two Different Ways detectives finally catch up with Samantha, who is as noble and steadfast a Final Girl as we could ever hope to meet. Wait, scratch that, she’s a self-centred peon. ‘Don’t let me go back to being a geek’ she simpers, and what about all the people who have fucking died because of you? She relents and they go to her bedroom to carry out the getting rid of genie spell, because…they only had a limited number of sets? Fuck off massive clown-genie resists the chant and drags Samantha into the closet. ‘I’m nearly done’ says Sean Pertwee, is that a promise? And can I have it in writing?
Huh, I bet Pennywise Sneezes Out Stuff Scarier Than This Guy.
Samantha finds herself at a party. Oh, it’s meant to be a prom, they sure do these things different in America. The teacher doesn’t actually announce their names, but Samantha and Daniel win the title of Prom King and Queen (A more meaningless accolade I genuinely can’t imagine). She rejects him, and therefore popularity. Time for final show down with the Genie, who has officially crossed the line from scary to irritating. ‘Do you really want to go back to being unpopular’?, he asks her, like it’s the worst fate to ever befall a human being. ‘I wish I never met you’ says Samantha defiantly, or I would, if I thought defiance was in her repertoire. She kills him with her phone. Yeah, just throwing her phone at it kills it, really. The ancient terror known as Djinn is destroyed if you feebly fling your Nokia 3310 at it.
Now THIS Is A Prom.
Life returns to normal, all those that died by making wishes have their lives restored. Samantha regains her place at the bottom of the social heap, but she does make up with Only Friend, which is nice. Back to Sean Pertwee for one last time. ‘Careful what you wish for’, he rasps in warning, before turning into a monster briefly. What? Not exactly the (theatrical) end of Paranormal Activity is it? In fact I would go so far as to say it was entirely pointless.
And that sentence pretty much sums this film up. At most it’s a series of badly done tableaux’s featuring badly done deaths. We basically jump straight into what I guess I have to call a plot (although I’m sure that contradicts some sort of Trading Standards act) with no build up, no character introduction. Even seminally awful high school film She’s All That Did had more skills in that area. The characters are all either pathetic or dicks, and badly acted ones at that. That fact that some of the ‘actors’ are better known for appearing in the abhorrent Nuts magazine does not surprise me in the least. The kill scenes are stupid, the effects laughable. What Chris Barrie and Sean Pertwee were doing here is beyond me. Maybe Sean Pertwee, who filmed his scenes with no other actors didn’t know the outcome was going to be so bad, but Barrie was in a fair few scenes, so what’s his excuse? This actually gives me a reason to look forward to new Red Dwarf on Dave, so he doesn’t have to appear in any more wank like this. And do we might see more things like this…