On screen, The Calling emerges as one among the many serial killer thrillers that followed in the vein of The Silence of the Lambs (1991) having been uplifted and dumped into the midst of Fargo (1996). The film is slow and sedate, something that switched many reviewers off and the film an initial bad rap, which it does not deserve at all. What it is not is uninteresting as a thriller Jason Stone gives it a cool measured pace, often focused around the interaction of a fine character ensemble. Once the plot kicks in, this is well constructed and holds our attention. The plot is rarely ever one that throws in improbable twists or stretches our credibility although maybe the idea of piecing the faces in autopsy photos together to deduce that the mouths have been left to make a Latin prayer does seem an exceedingly obscure piece of deductive reasoning.
The Catholic serial killer angle has been done before see films such as House of Mortal Sin/The Confessional (1976), The Rosary Murders (1987) and A Twist of Faith/Beyond Redemption (1999) but this does interesting things with the idea. The idea of the killer trying to enact obscure rituals of resurrection takes the film closer to the Christian-themed serial killer thriller Resurrection (1999), although by contrast here the enigmatic final scene leaves the film sitting on an ambiguous potentially supernatural note.
The Calling could have easily slipped away and become just tv filler, although did achieve a brief theatrical release. All of the actors Susan Sarandon as might be expected, a young eager Topher Grace, an aging Ellen Burstyn give fine performances of many shadings. However, the actor who holds the screen throughout is the relatively unknown Christopher Heyerdahl as the killer. The way he phrases his sentences and seems to be choosing his words, the sagacity and wisdom he radiates along with what is at one point described as kind eyes, makes for a decidedly unusual and genteel serial killer, almost the complete opposite of anything we might expect. As a result, he entirely captivates the show whenever he is around.
(Nominee for Best Actress (Susan Saradon) and Best Supporting Actor (Christopher Heyerdahl) at this sites Best of 2014 Awards).