Close Calls is very dedicated to an 80s style despite taking place in the present. This horror movie is deliciously campy, kitsch and very trippy but way too long. Not without issues, it’s still a crazy ride!
Close Calls does feel like a little horror gem. It just also seems to trip itself up on too many occasions. It even goes into some dialogue that sounds like it’s taken from some sort of torture porn script. Not my thing at all, but it’s only a tiny part of the movie.
According to the trivia section of IMDb, the script was first drafted in 2008 when writer-director, Richard Stringham, was obsessing over a girl called “Morgan”. However, it wasn’t finished until Richard Stringham experienced an intense shroom trip that inspired the final project.
And yes, it definitely does show that Close Calls is the product of a psychedelic trip.
If only the story had been refined a lot more when sober, this could have been a new cult classic. It may still be, but I think many people will be annoyed with the very slow pace.
Featuring a softcore 80s porn vibe
The style of Close Calls is probably best described as a softcore 80s porn vibe. Admittedly, I’m not exactly well-versed in this niche, but I do know my 80s movies. And this movie is definitely very much in the style of the 80s.
The softcore porn vibe comes as a natural side effect of its star being clad in bra and panties for most of the movie. And yes, the lead character Morgan is portrayed by someone with very large breasts.
Her name is Jordan Phipps and while you will notice her breasts since they tend to enter the screen before her face does, you should also notice that she does an excellent job.
The character is almost like a background character from Piranha got her own storyline. Morgan (Jordan Phipps) is pretty badass and gets into quite a bit of trouble. But it’s also with the strong campy style chosen for Close Calls.
Another bonus of this style is the fact that Jordan Phipps gets to deliver some iconic one-liners. My favorite being “Fuck you and everyone who looks like you!”. That one made me laugh out loud with its perfect delivery.
Women are in charge – but the male gaze rules
It’s obvious that Close Calls was created by men. The stereotypical (and obviously made in this style) male gaze is prevalent in every part of the story. It can get a bit tiring because it gets in the way of the story at times.
And the story really is the weak link of this movie. Or actually, not the story per se but the pace. The movie is way too long, but you only really notice this because the pacing is extremely slow at times.
The thing I really enjoyed with the story was the fact that women were very much in charge. Mostly Jordan Phipps as Morgan (who has all sorts of issues), but also Carmen Patterson.
If you take her character and performance too seriously, then you will cringe at every word. If instead, you enjoy the kitsch 80s style of a character along the lines of Joan Collins’ “Alexis” from Dynasty, then you should find yourself very amused.
All the points for style to Richard Stringham
The stylistic choices for Close Calls are so strong that the passion for this project is obvious. And I always adore it when people go 100% for a certain style or vibe.
Writer and director Richard Stringham has created something truly special with this movie and you will be drawn into his crazy story.
Also, the coloring is pretty damn fascinating. This was done by veteran colorist, Omar Godinez, who also worked on I Spit on Your Grave. Unfortunately, Omar Godinez passed away before the release of Close Calls, which is why the movie is dedicated to him.
Sometimes, the style goes off on weird little tangents like a split screen conversation between two characters who are obviously standing on a spinning disk. It’s a good effect even if it makes absolutely no sense in any kind of reality.
Honestly, Close Calls is not the kind of movie I ever expect to rewatch. But I absolutely appreciate the dedication to a style which the final project is the impressive result of.
Close Calls is out On Demand from January 11, 2019.
Watch it on all major platforms like Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, Tubi TV and Steam, etc.
Director: Richard Stringham
Writer: Richard Stringham
Stars: Jordan Phipps, Greg Fallon, Carmen Patterson, Kristof Waltermire, Janis Duley, Star McCann, Landen Matt
Morgan, a troubled, drug-addled teen, must deal with her crazy grandma and a psycho caller when her father leaves her home alone. As the calls keep coming in, a paranoid Morgan is forced to face some of her worst fears and inner demons when she believes everyone she knows is either plotting against her – or trying to kill her.