Netflix review: Time-twisting Korean thriller ‘The Call’ will keep you on the edge of your seat

A scene from ‘The Call.’ Handout

In 2020, 28-year-old Seo-yeon (Park Shin-hye) just moved into an old house in the village. Once she got the old landline phone connected, she began receiving several calls from a frantic female caller who said her mother was going to kill her. Curious for her constant calls, Seo-yoon decided to speak to the other girl, who introduced herself as Young-sook (Jeon Jong-seo), who was also 28 years old, but she was living in 1999.

“The Call” is Park Shin-hye’s second Netflix horror film this year, as she was earlier seen in the zombie-thriller “#Alive.” Park’s versatile acting skills served her well in this role of the confused and tormented Seo-yeon. Her co-star Jeon Jong-seo’s career immediately rose with her debut role in the acclaimed film “Burning” (2018). As the mentally unstable Young-sook, Jeon underwent a transformation of character that kept us on the edge of our seats.

The whole concept of a phone connecting the lives of two women 20 years apart was already very interesting. When their conversations were translated into real events, then the plot further thickened into something more compelling. When Seo-yeon told of a household accident that claimed the life of her father, Young-sook went to prevent it from happening. From time-travel movies, we all know what can happen when the course of history is altered.

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Young-sook lived with a sinister-looking step-mother (Lee El) who was apparently a shaman. She performed elaborate exorcism rituals on Young-sook, believing the girl was cursed. To return the favor of bringing her father back to life, Seo-yeon’s online research revealed the date when a certain shaman murdered her step-daughter back in 1999. Forewarned, Young-sook was able to escape her death, now we know hell is really going to break loose.

All of this happened within the first 20 minutes of this two-hour film, which meant that there was going to be so much more time-twisting going to happen, as the present conditions of Seo-yeon would change with everything sinister Young-sook was doing at her end in the past. Director Lee Chung-hyun did well to keep the parallel two timelines distinct from each other, and delivered the multi-layered story clearly with all the chills and thrills it held in store.

This review was originally published in the author’s blog, “Fred Said.”

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