STILL SMALL VOICES
I must admit to being hooked by Still Small Voices initial premise the idea of a 911 operator who suddenly starts to receive calls for help from a ghost girl. It is a fascinating idea that would some day make the basis of a great horror film or a half-hour episode for some anthology series like The Twilight Zone (1959-63). As the film starts, there is something haunted in the initial scenes with Catherine Bell trying to puzzle over and make sense of the half-coherent phone message from the girl.
The great disappointment about Still Small Voices is that it almost immediately drops the ghostly phonecalls aspect and heads off on a routine supernatural murder mystery. This consists of Catherine Bell prosaically trying to make sense of various clues that she either happens upon or is being (possibly supernaturally) led to. There are various cuts back to Mark Humphrey as Catherine Bells husband looking vaguely distressed as he spends nearly the entire film trying to locate her, as well as several cheap jump shocks with repeated images of a demonic-seeming George Buza breaking down doors and windows.
I must confess I am not sure if I fully followed the eventual revelation of what was happening. [PLOT SPOILERS]. Here the film seems to be taking more than several leaves from the book of The Sixth Sense (1999). We learn that the little girl Carrie that Catherine Bell is tracking is not who she thinks it is, that this is another girl altogether, that both the other girl and the real Carrie were abducted by paedophile Charles Martin Smith, that the room they were imprisoned in caught fire and they were unable to escape through the barred window, how the demonic-seeming George Buza was actually a fire-fighter who broke in and saved Carrie but not the other girl, how Carrie subsequently lost her memory and grew up to be none other than Catherine Bell. It is an interesting twist on an otherwise routine film, even if it feels contrived and hard to follow in its final revelation.
One of the great bonuses of Still Small Voices is the presence of Catherine Bell in the central role. Catherine Bell is a former model best known for roles in tv series like JAG (1995-2005) and Army Wives (2007-14). She has a beauty and an intent seriousness that more than successfully anchors the film. As with almost any Canadian-made production, Still Small Voices pretends that it is set in the US while being filmed in Canada. (I can understand US productions that use Canada as a location, but why do so many Canadian films seems ashamed of their national identity?).
Director Mario Azzopardis other genre films include:- the serial killer thriller Bone Daddy (1998), the time travel film Thrill Seekers/The Time Shifters (1999), Witchslayer Gretl (2010) and Aladdin and the Death Lamp (2012).