WRITER: Joe Johnson
Jack Brett Anderson
A group of four friends who like to record prank videos and upload them to the web take it one step too far when they end up pranking a mother and her child who are alone in their home, and it ends in a horrible tragedy. Still, the four friends continue to record their prank videos and make prank phone calls, only this time, they prank-call the wrong person who has all their information, and they decide to play a deadly game with the four friends.
When Don't Hang Up started, I wasn't sure what to expect from the film. The movie opens with a somewhat creepy scene that involves a police officer calling a woman in the middle of the night telling her not to panic and that there are two intruders in her house. I know this is a stretch and probably wouldn't happen unless this woman had called them first but this opens the film in a pretty terrifying way. I can't lie that this opening scene sent chills down my spine. I could only imagine if this happened to a person in real life, your heart would stop from fear.
The movie suddenly reveals that this is all a prank and we are introduced to our four mates who are all internet famous for their prank videos. Once we are introduced to these four frat boys, and douche canoes, we get a sense that they don't give a crap about much else other than drinking, sleeping with girls and pranking poor people in the most mean-spirited of ways. I'm talking; they tell a father that his daughter has been killed in a car crash on the freeway. It makes these four guys rather unlikable almost immediately.
Things take a turn for the worst very quickly. Don't Hang Up doesn't waste much time in revealing our creepy caller who starts laying out his sinister plan for two of the four frat boys. At this point, we are told that this unknown caller knows pretty much every single thing about these guys. He knows what they do for work, where they live, who they are dating, who their families are and what their phone numbers are. Before the sun rises the next morning, this guy is going to destroy their lives and put these four guys through hell, and he does. No one ends up being safe.
Don't Hang Up feels like a mix of Road Kill and Phone Booth. The setting is set in this one house for most of the running time and these two guys being two frat boys who get in way over their heads after they make a prank call. The movie follows a pretty predictable formula for the most part. I wasn't exactly shocked by any of the twists and could see a lot of the little reveals coming from a mile away, but I actually had fun with this film. It's not original nor is it precisely good but for the entire eighty minutes, this is pretty mean-spirited and at times bloody.
The best element of the film is how stylized this movie looks. I think the directors of Don't Hang Up sat down and watched every David Fincher movie and took tips from his films. This looks so similar to Panic Room in the way it is filmed that it borders on more than a homage. The film is filled with these long fluid tracking shots that move up through floorboards or out of windows and through everyday objects around the house. Being a big fan of David Fincher, I just enjoyed how slick a lot of this movie appeared. They used every nook and cranny of this house.
Concerning tension, suspense and scares, I think Don't Hang Up has a couple of solid moments. The opening scene is a solid start for the film. I was genuinely creeped out and think it has a reasonably eerie start. I think the film ramps up the suspense in a few scenes in the second act, but they are never as good as the opening scene. The movie loses tension in the third act where a couple of scenes just become silly, and I was rolling my eyes. One scene involving a character being sent out with his hands bound with a knife and his mouth is duct taped which has been done so many times in the past, and it ends up getting this one character killed had me more annoyed than anything else.
I think where the movie missed an opportunity was to show how prank videos and trolling on the internet affects a lot of people. They could have driven this element home and been a lot more topical as it's a significant issue. We do get glimpses of how stuff like this can have horrible consequences, but they focused a lot more on style over substance. While that's a lot of fun, I think they could have tried to blend the two more. This is a horror movie, though so I can see them wanting to stick with just the whole revenge plot at the film's core.
Lastly, the acting is decent for the most part. I have seen Garrett Clayton in the true story King Cobra where he went a lot further with his performance. Here he plays the douche bag mate, but by the film's end, I had come around to their whole bromance. Gregg Sulkin is also great as our main character. He is the standout in this movie. At first, I didn't even realise that Sienna Guillory was our opening scene character. She looked so much different in this film than she did in the Resident Evil franchise. Her performance while short was great as well.
DEATH TOLL: 8
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Two people are shown tied up and beaten.
- Someone is suffocated with a plastic bag.
- Someone is shown hanging by the neck from a wire.
- When the wire is removed their throat splits open.
- Someone is shot in the head.
- Someone shoots themselves.
- A child is shot.
- Someone is stabbed in the stomach.
- Two people are shown dead on video.
Don't Hang Up is style over substance. This movie uses every second of it's running time to show us these long, gorgeous fluid tracking shots and camera angles. I can't deny that I was impressed with the way this film looked. The acting is decent for the most part. The movie sadly could have gone a lot further with its themes about the dangers of prank videos and trolling on the internet or even with the gore. The film isn't great by any means and is pretty predictable, but I can't say that I didn't have fun with the movie in the end.