THE TELEPHONE (2017)
Starring Nigel Barber, Bernard Deegan and Rachel Prince
Written and directed by Stuart Wheeldon
“When Richard arrives in a small town, following the receipt of a letter and glassfish sent to his newspaper office, he is unaware of what he is about to become embroiled in. Intrigued by the story of a mysterious disappearance of a young woman Jane. Richard takes a room in the pub, the last place Jane was known to be alive. Awakened one night by an old telephone that seems to ring endlessly and then a chance encounter with the spectral image of a young woman, Richard decides to question the owner. Max an abstract artist denies ever seeing or putting up the woman in question. Richard is told ‘The Telephone’ must be in his imagination. Richard’s instincts tell him there is more to the story. Is the ghostly figure seen late at night, that of Jane? Could the telephone ringing truly just be in his head? If you heard the ringing, would you be prepared to answer what lies at the end of the phone?” Via Stuart Wheeldon IMDb.
Running at 27 minutes, quite lengthy for a short film, The Telephone at times feels like a Hammer House of Horror episode minus the commercial break. It has a mysterious atmosphere of dread, with strange seemingly unconnected scenes and actions that build towards a finale that answers lots of questions, but leaves you with even more.
Wheeldon has a clear love for the psychological thriller and also pays homage to Giallo and Hitchcock films from the past, putting a unique and very British spin on them.
Nigel Barber is having lots of fun here, essentially getting chance to channel Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter in the same scene, while Bernard Deegan makes for an interesting and morally ambiguous hero.
While Wheeldon has skill behind the camera, creating some sharp and often beautiful compositions, the editing often lets him down. On top of the plodding pace, there are some very clumsy and distracting transitions that really take away from what could easily be a very polished calling card with some extra care.
The Telephone is still a diverting and seedy little psycho-thriller, with plenty of visual references that will have horror fans smiling.