31 Days Of Horror (Day 7) – Babycall (2012)

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All week our writer Ross Wilcock has been sharing his choices  of movies to watch to get us into the mood for Hallow’s Eve, Halloween. We thought we would give him a break and today’s  31 Days Of Horror with a review of my own. Horror is such a diverse genre, the silent terror of German Expressionism to  Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff scared with the golden age. Hammer House Films to creature features we could go on forever , but my choice drops into psychological rather than a psychical threat. In 2012 Soda Pictures released Babycall a Scandinavian chiller starring Lisbeth Salander herself Noomi Rapace and here was my review from the same year.

Steig Larsson‘s Millennium Trilogy of novels where a worldwide bestsellers whey they were released, so it was no surprise the film version gained the same success. The films made Noomi Rapace a household name in her native Scandinavia and this summer she should take further steps to becoming a household name in Hollywood when Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien DNA’ blockbuster Prometheus. Before then the talented actress has gone homeward bound back into familiar territory playing a young troubled woman let down by the people who should be protecting her in the chilling Babycall.

Rapace plays Anna, a young single mother seeking refuge from her abusive partner with her 8-year-old son Anders ,she gets a small flat in a large concrete estate in the suburbs of Oslo (Norway). Anna is a victim of been let down by the system, with 2 unsympathetic social/child care workers (one who is sexually aggressive towards her), Anna fears her son’s father could still return anytime she heads off to an electrical store. She buys a Babycall (baby monitor) to help ease some of her fears by letting her son sleep in his own room but soon as she starts using the monitor, the babycall picks up disturbing sounds of a baby or young child in distress. Is Anna losing grip on reality? or is there something darker more sinister going on here?

Not even a few minutes on the screen you get your first taster of the tensions, scares that go on in Anna’s life every day, from the minute she gets her new flat to her boy starting school she doesn’t like Anders (Vetle Qvenild Werring) leaving her side. It’s the first part of the film we really learn how fragile as well as how lonely she is and in dire need of a friend or at least someone she can trust which she finds in the electrical shop in Helge (Kristoffer Joner), who in ways is a lot like Anna, Helge is Anna Yang to her ying. Whilst her strength, power may lie in her love for Anders, over protecting which at times looks neurotically uncomfortable, Helge is that overprotected son unwilling to be remorseful to his dying mother and the way she treated him.

Despite the script at times feeling muddled, confusing after the tension the power of the performances of the actors actually keeps Babycall intriguing. Kristoffer Joner provides a fantastic support with a character which could be described as the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz, a kind caring man whose personality moulded in a certain way by a controlling parent probably why he is sympathetic towards mothers like Anna. She needs no drumroll but Noomi Rapace as usual never disappoints giving a mesmerising performance. She possesses a rare gift of superb on screen magnetism which helps her to carry this film with ease keeping the viewer interested in the film from start to finish showing why soon she’ll be one of the best actresses on both sides of the Atlantic.

Babycall  is a powerful, compelling story which has its moments that would easily fit in early Polanski films . A Haunting creepy film that’s let down at times with a muddled confusing script but strong performances from the cast keep your intrigued, as  Babycall attempts to answer some of those heart-wrenching questions that families get affected by.

|Paul Devine

Horror, World Cinema | Norway,  2012 | 15|Dir: Pål Sletaune | Noomi Rapace, Kristoffer Joner, Vetle Qvenild Werring

31 Days Of Horror: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7