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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 which claims it's 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 hear 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 is 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 become 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 are a real treat, especially those in the horror genre. I really liked Unfriended. Unfriended had great moments, some good acting and a solid scary plot. 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. This did not have any.
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 for online celebrity status. I was left thinking at the beginning - "who does that??" It's like throwing rocks at cars from an overpass...it's criminal and perhaps that's why I never really bought into having any empathy for the deaths that came about. Is that what the writers intended? Did they really want me championing the villain, 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.
There are comments on the web page of the protagonists (more antagonists at this point) when they post their videos, that others think they were 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 even thought this film has its share of blood. I'm not a fan of people cutting their own limbs off even thought I think that Saw (the original) is a well made example of situational gore, done right.
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 too much the same.
Don't Hang Up had the same level of control of the killer in Saw. Mr Lee was able to control the lights in the house which I thought extremely odd. For every action, there is a severe reaction or consequence. Same as Saw. Whose moral compass can be more bent out of shape? Same as Saw. 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 back story. It’s through becoming connected to them as people that we care what happens to them.
In first scenes, we get cut off from a conversation between Brady and Mr. Lee alluding to Brady having to decide whether to save himself. I saw it as a trick, it always is right? Well, you'll have to watch it and see. Are you compelled to like the softer guy (Sam) or suspect the meaner guy to do something stupid and make the wrong choice? I think that's the intention of the writers but as they were both horrible, it didn't matter much.
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 get told or believing what they read. That would have made an awesome back story for Mr. Lee. He could’ve been a serial vigilante killing for the innocent. Or something like that.
I guess if you haven't seen Saw, you might appreciate this.
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 precisely, 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
Mr Lee. Is that a mask or are you just happy to see me?
Which movie did you like better?
Tell me I'm wrong and rate - 'Don't Hang Up'
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