When one reader put The Caller (1987) on their list of favorite horror movies back in 2020, I says to myself I says "Huh, never heard of it." Choosing movies from that list to watch this year, I saw The Caller and I says to myself I says "Huh, I've only heard of it that one time when someone had it on their list." So I decided to watch it. And with that exciting tale out of the way, here we are!
You know what, I'm just going to write the description of The Caller as given by Tubi because this description feels like it was assembled from a set of "scary" magnetic poetry, but it also sort of mostly tells you what you need to know.
When a stranger asks a mysterious woman for a favor, a twisted game goes from erotic hints to a tense fear that chillingly explodes in a shock ending.
Typing that out, I am suddenly struck by how it might be cool if, like The Caller, my life also "chillingly explodes in a shock ending." It sounds very exciting, better than, like, "she fell in the shower," you know?
I see that the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome released this on Blu-ray a few years back, but heck yeah, I watched this on Tubi. It seemed like a Tubi movie, if you know what I mean. Sure, Tubi's free so it'll do for any movie in a pinch, I suppose, but all those commercials...I don't know, I wouldn't want to be watching, say, Irreversible and have it interrupted by someone yelling at me about fabric softener. Okay, yes, I don't want to watch Irreversible at all, but you get my point. Not to get too the medium is the message here, but some things are fine to watch with commercial interruptions and other things would suffer for it. And there are even other things that are best see with commercial interruptions, I think. Tubi is a treasure trove of made for TV movies, so I say, if you're going to sit down and treat yourself--and trust me, it is treating yourself--to Suzanne Pleshette starring as the Queen of Mean Leona Helmsley in the 1990 made for TV film Leona Helmsley: The Queen of Mean, do it as it was meant to be done, dig?
Anyway. Perhaps I should assemble this post out of magnetic poetry, because I don't want to risk giving anything away with The Caller, because the less you know, the better.
One evening, The Caller shows up at the cabin in the woods belonging to The Girl (who is a WOMAN, excuse me) and asks if he can use her phone to call a tow truck. She reluctantly lets him inside, informing him that her dinner date will be arriving any minute. It's obvious that one or both of them is lying and has ulterior motives--I mean, Malcolm McDowell is The Caller and I don't think he can do anything that doesn't come off all sinister-like. And as The Girl WOMAN, Madolyn Smith Osborne is a big walking bag of red flags.
It's fun to watch them try to unravel stories and figure out what the other is up to, because we're doing the same. I admit, after a while I started thinking "If this is all just some weird sex thing, please get it over with already." We don't know anything about these two characters, and their whole My Dinner With Weirdo act started to grate a little bit. If you find yourself feeling the same way, it's worth sticking with it. Does it chillingly explode in a shock ending? I'll say!
The Caller is, dare I say, a little gem, one of those where knowing nothing about it is the best way to go in...so I'm saying no more! Besides, I'm off--no idea why but I have this strong urge to go buy a shitton of fabric softener today.