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Review - Why The Movie 'Don't Hang Up' Should Be Firmly Disconnected From Service.
What's it About?
The opening scene is a woman, awoken in the middle of the night, by a voice claiming to be the police. They tell the woman there are intruders in the house. She needs to stay in her room to protect herself and her daughter.. The caller will instruct her to keep her safe and the ‘police’ will work on nabbing the intruders.
The women hears sound effects through the phone. Gun shots, voices... it sounds like the intruders are downstairs. The woman is champing at the bit to leave her room and go and get her daughter in an adjoining room. The voice alludes to someone having grabbed 'the child.' The woman freaks out madly trying to escape the bedroom she was told to barricade herself into. The scene ends.
We then see the pranksters, they are happy. Afloat on 'likes' and views to their web page. They trick their mates, their neighbors and anyone they can - with fake car-crashes, fake terminal illnesses, fake deaths. They truly take the cake for vulgar.
The two boys - Sam (played by Gregg Sulkin) and Brady (played by Garrett Clayton) receive their own incoming call. He calls himself Mr. Lee.
Mr. Lee knows them. Mr. Lee knows where they live, what's going on in their lives and even more sinister, Mr. Lee knows where they are.
At first, the pranksters are amused. However their amusement quickly turns into annoyance before their carefree attitude deems the only thing they should worry about is that the pizza they didn't order has anchovies. Sam hates anchovies. Sam's love interest Peyton, is the one to deliver the pizza they didn't order (why didn't she think it was odd the pizza had anchovies?)
Who is Mr. Lee? What does he want? Why can't they call the police? Where is he calling from.
Are the pranksters being pranked or is this a new game of taking a dose of your own medicine?
Trailer for Dont Hang Up
My Thoughts on 'Don't Hang Up.'
I went into this movie with high hopes and dash of enthusiasm. I read the plot line and thought, maybe it will be something different?
I saw the words pranksters and thought sometimes movies based around social media can be a real treat, especially, based around the horror genre. I really liked Unfriended for example. Unfriended still had some great moments, some good acting and some solid scary plot lines. The Den involving social media also sprung to mind. Perhaps the main difference between those movies and Don’t Hang Up is having likeable characters.
The main characters in this story are horrific in my opinion, straight off the bat.
The movie gives a sense that this is somewhat normal behavior for two teen boys who own a video camera and are opting to get online celebrity status. I was left thinking at the beginning - "who does that??" It's the equivalent of throwing rocks at cars from an overpass...it's criminal and perhaps that's why I never really latched onto to any empathy for the deaths that came about. Is that what the writers intended? Did they really want me to be championing Mr. Lee?
Situations in real-life where group mentality allows for more than one person to take part in abhorrent behavior really irks me. It more than irks me, it makes me sentimental for the vigilantes of the world sometimes. You can comments on their web page when they post their videos, that others think they are tapped in the head too. They don’t have online fame, they are simply notorious. I would almost expect not one killer to stalk them but perhaps four or five!
I would have really liked more depth to this movie. I guessed the ending ...thinking...no really? Surely they are going to surprise me? Nope, no surprise.
I would have liked a deeper or more complex message than what I suspected from the end of the opening scene. I never do spoilers and I won't here.
While some view this movie to have many twists, I really did view it as derivative. In fact, some of the stuff they do is downright plagiarised as far as I'm concerned and I wasn't happy one bit.
Going in, 'Don't Hang Up' reminded me of Saw without the torture and gross places that Saw took you. I was actually said in my head "you know, I hated how terribly teeth clenching some of the ’games’ Saw included. I'm not a fan of people cutting their own legs off so I thought maybe this movie will be like Saw but without the gross leg amputations and heads being blown up."
And it was like Saw but way, way too much. It had concepts and other added bits from other movies I have also seen, sticky taped into the film. The twists became a failure. The twists were borrowed.
Don't Hang Up had the same level of control held by the would be the killer down to control of the lights in the house (which I thought extremely odd) as Saw too but with more predictability. For every action, there is a severe reaction or consequence. Whose moral compass can be more bent out of shape? Well in this movie, neither. I'm not even sure I cared about their moral compass and to be honest, I think I would have liked a little more torture than what the killer doled out as punishment. For these characters, had they needed to cut their own legs off, I may have felt slightly satisfied.
If Sam or Brady valued anything, taking away their favorite toys would have upset them more than threatening to take away their loved ones.
Not enough effort went into the story between Sam and Peyton. Sure he was a little sad they were on the outs but did I care much? No. Perhaps that's the point though - I mean, especially when comparing it to a Saw movie. The people in predicaments in Saw have made terrible lapses in judgment which is why they are in the movie in the first place, but they all have a backstory. It’s through becomming connected to them as people that wecare what happens to them.
In initial scenes, we are cut short from a conversation between Brady and Mr. Lee alluding to Brady having to make a decision to save himself. I saw it as a trick, it always is right? Well, you'll have to watch it and see. You are compelled to like the softer guy (Sam) and you suspect the meaner guy to do something stupid and make the wrong choice.
Kill or be killed? I just didn't care. I wanted to - but I didn't. Oh and the end scene ugh. Yawn.
At the beginning of this movie - I thought it had promise. It had me thinking about the internet and about the many people tricked or scammed by simply believing what they are told or believing what they read. That would have made an awesome backstory for Mr. Lee. He could’ve been a serial vigilante killing for the innocent. Or something like that.
I give it 2 plastic suffocations out of 5.
Quick Film Info
The Directors and the Writers
Directors - Alexis Wajsbrot and Damien Mace made their directorial début with Don't Hang Up. Previously to this Alexis had mostly been visual effects and CG Supervisor and Special FX but in saying that - he's worked on some pretty good movies. Movies like Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Doctor Strange (2016), Paddington (2014), Iron Man 3 (2013), and Cloverfield (2008) to name a few so I instantly thought there is probably nothing this man can't do if he tried.
His co-director Damien runs in the same circle and has worked on Game of Thrones (often), Avatar (2009), The Legend of Tarzan (2016), Hannibal Rising (2007) as well as directing Red Balloon and another short film called Home Alone with his buddy Alexis. Maybe these guys are going on to better and grander things. Perhaps not with Don't Hang Up but in the future.
Joe Johnson - hasn't really done anything for some time. About 12 years to be precise, but he has written and produced other things. None of which I've seen but perhaps someone else knows of them - Mutant X and plus 18 Wheels of Justice The Skulls III
Alexis Wajsbrot directed this short film called Red Balloon
Most of the critics slammed this movie. They called it a rehash of every horror movie around. They called it derivative. They called it uninspired and unimaginative but the one that stuck out for me was a review I read from Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times, who likened it to the
"I know What You Did Last Summer play book."
This is where I draw the line, I disagree. There is nothing wrong with that movie or the sequel and that franchise is nothing like this plot except in that the killer who stalks them, sets the scene around a house and he wears a mask. That's the only similarity.
Rotten Tomatoes 3.3/10 - from critics and 2.8% - from user ratings
IMDb.com gave it 5.7/10. Two vastly differing opinions. Sifting through the reviews gave no clarity either. Some flat out loved it and others flat-out hated it. Some thought it was brilliant and a new concept... pfft - they were obviously the ones who had never watched a horror movie before.
77% of Google users liked it too.