Babycall tells the story of Anna (Noomi Rapace), who escapes to a new flat with her eight year old son, Anders (Vetle Ovenild Werring), in an effort to shelter themselves from Anders abusive father who drove them into hiding. In Anna’s neurotic state she buys a baby monitor to keep a close eye on Anders, only to overhear what sounds suspiciously like a murder.
From the off the film throws us straight in; it’s a move into a new flat and a new life and the incident that caused such
events is simply thrown in along the way. Rapace shines immediately, her anxiety and compulsiveness are played to perfection, providing just enough emotion to allow the audience to establish the pain of her previous relationship. As the narrative progresses more exposition is shed, and slight twists and turns allow excitement to generate, proving this might be another great Scandinavian thriller to join the growing list.
Within the second act psychological elements begin to present themselves; not long enough to provide the audience with further exposition but just the right length to announce not everything is as it seems. Norwegian writer/director Pal Sletaune does his best to shock with numerous twists and turns, but it’s here the film becomes problematic. In an age where originality is hard to come by, each plot point brings yet more familiarity to a narrative beginning to look rather clichéd.
It doesn’t take a cinematic genius to grasp where the third act will take us, even a viewer unfamiliar with the thriller genre and certain psychological elements it brings can predict the outcome. If the first two acts provided enough entertainment to maintain a steady pace and just enough thrills to keep you on the edge of your seat, then the third does its best to negate that. It seems Sletaune had the concept nailed, but a poorly written and badly executed screenplay was always going to provide problems. The initial murder that provided the film with a sub plot worth exploring seemed to take a back foot, instead prompting Sletaune to opt for the root of psychological analysis, ignoring the inconceivable factor that the content is flawed and attempting it anyway.
While Babycall far from scares, certain aspects provide thrilling moments, and Rapace alone is enough of a reason to watch the film, in some ways making up for a narrative riddled with enough plot holes to deem it implausible. A poor conclusion to the film and a clichéd attempt at the genre by Sletaune knock the potential right out of Babycall.
Babycall is out in Arthouse Cinemas Nationwide in Limited Release