Director: Pål Sletaune
Screenplay: Pål Sletaune
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Kristoffer Joner, Henrik Rafaelsen
Producer: Turid Øversveen
Country: Norway
Running Time: 96 min
Year: 2011
BBFC Certificate: tbc

I had very high hopes for this film for several reasons; 1. It features the amazing Noomi Rapace (co-star of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), who in my opinion is the queen of nailing dark and disturbing performances. 2. It is a psychological thriller and 3. It was directed by the very talented Norwegian film maker Pal Sletaune responsible for the under rated and little seen Next Door (2005). Unfortunately, his fifth film as a director is very disappointing. Rapace is fantastic she carries the film from start to finish and keeps it fairly interesting. However, the problem appears to be that the film contains far too many subplots which are incredibly illogical and significantly weigh the film down.

Babycall tells the story of single mother Anna who moves herself and her eight year old son, Anders, into a flat outside of Oslo to get away from her violent husband. Anna is scared stiff that they will be found, and is under heavy watch by a couple of child care workers. She get’s the idea of buying a babycall so that her son doesn’t have to sleep in her bed, only to find that the babycall picks up another troubled child somewhere within the housing estate. Anna forms a close friendship with shop assistant Helge and finds comfort in this shy man who also has a troubled past. Anna is constantly on edge, but is her imagination to blame for this? The audience follow Anna as she tries to hide in the flat, taking small steps into society only to feel threatened by anything that shows up on her doorstep. Is she imagining that someone is hurting a child elsewhere?

There is a superb film somewhere in here. If the writers had toyed with the premise of the film, developed the characters further and took advantage of what could be done to an audience’s nervous system when a mother hears strange noises coming from her son’s baby monitor. In addition, the film was shot on 35MM and looks stunning. There are plenty of low-key scares, but the film never quite satisfies as either a B-level chiller or as a psychological study of one woman’s gradual decline. Babycall is an unsatisfying and unconvincing half-horror and half art house feature, which leaves audiences feeling cheated.

Review written by Rebekah Louisa Smith

Babycall is released on March 30th in the UK.

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