Don’t Hang Up (2016) Review

rsz_dhu1DON’T HANG UP (2016)

Starring Gregg Sulkin, Garrett Clayton, Bella Dayne and Sienna Guillory

Directed by Damien Mace and Alexis Wajsbrot

Written by Joe Johnson

Out on DVD on 12th June 2017 and Digital on 26th June 2017 courtesy of Solo Media and Matchbox Films

An evening of drunken prank calls becomes a nightmare for a pair of teenagers when a mysterious stranger turns their own game against them…with deadly consequences“.

Social media themed thrillers are everywhere now. Some are actually quite successful, with Unfriended somehow managing to make a film entirely shot through webcams gripping, and the glossy thriller Nerve was a fun time. But they all come with a built in flaw, one that is completely incurable. As soon as they’re released, possibly as soon as they’re scripts are finished, they become dated. Social media is constantly evolving, on a daily basis. Seriously, how many Facebook updates have you had in the past month? In the digital age, a techno thriller has a tough task staying up to date for its savvy target audience.

Enter Don’t Hang Up, which does itself no favours by having characters who are still using consumer camcorders when they have 4K iPhones that can upload their pranks directly to YouTube! I wouldn’t bring any of this up if not for the fact that this is all vital to the plot and characters. And it’s details like these which start chipping away at the believability.

rsz_dhu2Speaking of characters, there are no heroes here. Our protagonists are dicks, particularly Brady (Clayton), an irritating dick. And no matter how lovesick Sam (Sulkin) is, he is still a dick. Which is fine, we don’t need likeable characters, as long as they’re interesting. But these are just those pricks Lad Bible like to make famous. The opening scene, involving their horrible prank on Sienna Guillory’s mother, establishes that. Now, this would all again be fine, if the film took a more satirical stance, and really analysed these YouTube personalities and their affect on society. But the filmmakers go with a traditional thriller instead, stalked by an all seeing malevolent home invader playing a twisted game Jigsaw would do after he watched When A Stranger Calls, and the suspense in those only works for me if I give a shit about the people involved. And I really didn’t.

The leads struggle with the script, which forces Sulkin and Clayton to be hysterical as soon as the shit hits the fan. It would have been much more fun to see the snivelling little sociopaths begin to show their true colours. But they are just asked to cry or look like they’ve been crying a lot. It’s annoying.

I’ll say one thing though, the directors know how to make a small film feel big, with lots of cinematic stylistic flourishes throughout a very brisk runtime. It’s just a shame the writer didn’t share their ambitions.

rsz_dhu3This all may sound like I didn’t enjoy Don’t Hang Up, but I actually did. It’s a fairly fun contained thriller, with some nice sadism thrown in and some actual surprises. But this subject is so rife and relevant and ready for an ambitious exploration that I wanted more. It just fails to live up to the promise of its premise for me.

6/10

Don’t Hang Up gets UK DVD & Digital Release

rsz_dhu1DON’T HANG UP – STARRING GREGG SULKIN AND GARRETT CLAYTON

UK DVD & Digital Release from Solo Media & Matchbox Films

Early DVD Release Date: 12th June 2017 Digital Release Date: 26th June 2017

Following a long tradition of cocky teenage boys with too much time on their hands, Brady, Sam and Mosley like to amuse themselves by making prank calls. However, their cellular diversions are intensified by the extreme nature of the pranks they put their unsuspecting victims through, and the delight and encouragement they receive when they post videos of their hijinks online for maximum humiliation. Having pushed the wrong person too far, they find themselves on the other side of a call, and an evening intended for normal high school revelry turns increasingly bloody as their unknown assailant ramps up a prank of his own.

Written by Joe Johnson | Directed by Damien Macé and Alexis Wajsbrot | Starring Gregg Sulkin (Pretty Little Liars, Faking It, Anti-Social), Garrett Clayton (King Cobra, Teen Beach Movie), Sienna Guillory (Resident Evil: Retribution, Love Actually) and Bella Dayne (Humans, Plebs)

 

Short Sharp Shock #17 Red Balloon (2010)

Short Sharp Shock banner no boltWelcome to UK Horror Scene’s Short Sharp Shock. This is where we will feature a short film each week for your viewing pleasure. Short films are the foundation of Horror, it is where many of the established directors cut their teeth . The amount of quality short films out there is incredible and it is our pleasure to choose you a new one each week that we think will blow you away. So every Friday we will give you ‘Something for the Weekend’ and issue your weekly Short,Sharp,Shock! Enjoy!

Red Balloon (2010)

Directors – Damien Macé, Alexis Wajsbrot

Starring – Gareth Bennett-Ryan, Rachel Bright, Chantal Eder

Runtime – 13 Minutes

A young female babysitter is chatting to her friend when the young girl she’s watching disturbs her….