ON VOD: DON’T HANG UP

DON’T HANG UP
USA
Director: Damien Mace and Alexis Wajsbrot
Runtime: 83 minutes
Language: English
Mostlyindies’ grade: C+
Take a familiar horror movie trope, switch the genders, update the technology, add a little nasty sadism courtesy from the Saw franchise, and you have yourself a nifty little picture by unknown directors Damien Mace and Alexis Rojsbrot who make their film debut with Don’t Hang Up, a movie you may not have heard from because it perhaps played only at Cinema Village (where micro-indies go to play for a solid week). Luckily for online platforms and FilmPulse, I was able to catch this little piece of nasty right in the comfort of my living room a couple of months ago and it still resonates in my mind.
Without revealing too much of what happens — even though after so many “the caller is inside the house!” movies featuring starlets who can scream, run, and wield a laundry list of throwable and sharp items in the name of self-defense you probably might find yourselves doing the biggest eye-roll ever when you approach this film. After all, how many variations can there be on the genre? Well — this is where Don’t Hang Up enters the picture. A woman gets woken in the middle of the night by a phone call. It’s a police officer, and he tells her she’s in danger. There is an intruder inside house. The woman instantly fears for her daughter’s safety. The officer tells the woman her daughter has been kidnapped, but not to make any sudden moves since the house is surrounded by the police. The woman, clearly terrified, doesn’t take any chances and grabs a gun. Before we get to know what happened we cut to a YouTube channel run by teen age boys who prank call people and then post their reactions on the net for all to listen to, or as trolls would say, ‘for the lulz.’ [To credit, this has been a common practice on YT for over 10 years now, so the premise isn’t too far fetched.]
What the boys — unlikeable, all of them, even when they look as pretty as Garrett Clayton, last seen as porn star Brent Corrigan in last year’s King Cobra — haven’t prepared for is for happens next. They find themselves getting calls from someone who seems at first as merely taunting — your typical complainer condemning these extreme pranks — but who starts to turn the tables onto them with terrifying speed. It’s not long when a battle of wits ensues and gets extremely ugly, fast. Mace and Wajsbrot clearly know their way around a set as their camera wanders in and out of the house where the entire picture takes place almost as an omniscient stalker. Unfortunately, their cast is pretty much throwaway. None of the two main characters — Brady (Clayton) and Sam (Gregg Sulkin) get much in the ways of sympathy from the viewer, considering they’re both pretty much bundles of testosterone, bros if you will, looking for cheap laughs at the expense of someone else’s humiliation, and I have to admit the effect of seeing them on the other side was satisfying. It may be a slight change in gears, but as a solid little piece of pulp cinema, Don’t Hang Up is solid.

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