DON'T HANG UP
Director: Alexis Wajsbrot & Damien Mace
Year of release: 2016
Country of origin: UK
Running time: 80 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD (Blu-Ray restricted to a German release).
Tagline: "Be careful who you prank".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: A group of four teenage boys make a nuisance of themselves by placing a series of prank calls where they also record the audio to upload online. Though this does wonders for their social media popularity it soon all comes back to bite them when someone disapproving of their antics decides to make the boys pay the ultimate price. This rough justice comes down predominantly on two of the culprits, a Sam and Brady whom at the time are enjoying a relaxed night at Sam’s house while his parents are away. The evening takes an unexpected turn for the pair when they receive a sinister phone call of their own. Though initially dismissive of the threats being made they rapidly discover the situation is all too real with the mystery caller holding both their own lives and even those of some of their friends and family in his hands.
Good points: *Don’t Hang Up is an interesting film in that it features a largely male cast with only two female characters in more minor supporting roles. Not only does this mean a final boy but also in another unusual turn of events almost all the action unfolds within Sam’s house. The filmmakers manage to create tension in spite of this limited set up or perhaps even because of it as it can be quite claustrophobic.
It helps that the two leads playing Sam and Brady do very well throughout and for a genre not known for stellar acting I thought these came across as being very credible. They’re both pretty interesting as characters and both did a more than stellar job of keeping me invested in the story. At first I didn’t think the characters were going to be a strong point at all what with them all being mean spirited pranksters. As you can imagine if anything they are unlikeable but as things wore on Sam really began to grow on me and I slowly warmed to him. I came to realise by his actions and decisions that he actually seemed a pretty decent guy. Brody is far the less likeable of the two but even he has a few fleeting moments where a softer side is evident. Most of the time however he’s in full jerk mode which though obnoxious is still fun to watch.
*Mild spoiler. The ending is very downbeat and quite surprised me in fact with the direction in which it ultimately went. Many viewers may find the end result quite satisfying though depending on how you felt about the characters so it could be interpreted as both rewarding and depressing.
The last fifteen minutes or so of the running time is much more action packed and edge of your seat style entertainment as well with even a mask coming into play (to my pleasant surprise). It all makes for a strong finish with the film in my eyes really going out on a high.
Bad Points: *There’s not a lot here when it comes to special effects with nearly all the murders either occurring off camera or via some sort of flashback. There’s another one shown on video playback but even that’s a tame affair. There is one more gooey and violent moment involving the Mosely character but that aside this is the one key area where I found the film sadly lacking. It’s easy to see why it only carries a fifteen age restriction certificate here in the UK.
*Big spoilers: There are a few unrealistic parts or small plot holes that are noticeable but not to the extent that I felt they brought the film down too much. They’re worthy of a mention though:
It seemed a bit weird to me that the killer only properly targeted two of the boys to taunt and torture in a prolonged fashion. Sam and Brady seemed to draw the killers ire a lot more that the other two. That’s not to say that the Moseley and Roy characters got off lightly as of course they both died but from what’s shown at the start it seems that Roy under the “PrankMonkey69” moniker is the ringleader. As such you’d expect him to be the one to be under the heaviest of fire but instead he’s merely a bit part player with Sam being the one to mainly carry the can. I guess he didn’t have the cheating friend and partner thing as motivation to help with the framing nor was he as likeable for the viewers sake (as final boy) but it still seems that Roy should have been more the focal point for the killer.
Elsewhere it seemed far fetched that the boys wouldn’t have heard about the death of Izzy and her mother and how it was directly related to one of their pranks. Surely one of their social media followers would have made them aware of it had they somehow have missed it themselves?
Lastly at one point fairly close to the end Brady is adamant that he wants to send Sam out of the house alone while he remains inside. I wasn’t sure why he was thinking that way though as there didn’t seem to be any particular reason for him to suggest this as in instructions from the killer that only he was privy to etc.
Verdict: This was a pleasant surprise for me as I happened to take a chance on it after seeing it going for a cheap price in the bargain bucket area of the supermarket. I hadn’t heard of it but decided to take a chance as the price was right but wasn’t expecting much. I went into it with low expectations or if anything sort of wanting not to like it as I wasn’t too keen on the sound of the story after reading about the pranksters on the back of the box. It both surprised and impressed me though and was quick to win me over once I got started. I wasn’t able to pick out all that many individual positives for the review but I did really like it despite that. Some more effort would have been nice with the deaths in terms of more in the way of special effects/gore but other than that I can’t fault it much.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Roy (PrankMonkey69): Smothered with plastic bag over head.
2)Mosely: Dies from a throat wound inflicted by some sort of wire.
3)Brady’s Mother: Killed off camera. Body later seen covered in blood.
4)Brady’s Father: Same as above.
5)Izzy: Shot by accident by her Mother.
6)Izzy’s Mother: Shoots herself after she realises her mistake with Izzy.
7)Peyton: Shot in the head off camera. We hear the gunshot and later see the body.
Note: Deaths 5 and 6 were in a flashback of an incident that happened a year ago so they actually occurred before the others.