Minaccia d'amore [Dial: Help] (1988) - We've Been Trying To Reach You About Your Car's Extended Warranty April 22, 2022 08:00
Model Jenny Cooper (Charlotte Lewis) has a problem, she's "hung up" on a guy who never calls her back, her life has become consumed by waiting for him to reach out and call her. It's an obsession she'll soon regret when she tries to call him while out one day only to dial the wrong number and awaken an evil force that won't let anyone come between her and them.
Directed by Ruggero Deodato, most known for Cannibal Holocaust, Dial: Help seems to gets an overwhelming panned response from an otherwise hardcore Deodato fan-base. Not being overly familiar with his work perhaps provides the benefit of enjoying this film for what it is and not what the director has been known for doing in the past. Jenny accidentally dials a phone number for a defunct lonely and suicidal hotline which has been out of business for twenty years. The building is basically abandoned, yet somehow the phone number to that particular office is somehow still in service. Her call releases a negative force built up over time from all the depressed people who had called in and starts stalking her, calling her at all hours with strange voices and dial tones on the other end.
At first the supernatural force appears to be protecting Jenny, saving her from an assault in the subway early in the film. But quickly things turn sour and it starts knocking off her close friends one by one, so it appears the energy wants her all to itself. With no one else to turn to she seeks the help of her new neighbor, a native Italian, whose all too happy to help out a pretty foreigner, but totally unaware what he's gotten himself into.
Being a big giallo fan I found myself enjoying this film a little more than I probably normally would. It looks and feels very much like late 60's to 70's Italian thriller with simply the substitution of a murderous supernatural energy for the stereotypical sexually frustrated serial killer. Charlotte Lewis (probably most well known for her role in The Golden Child, with Eddie Murphy) is incredibly easy on the eyes and puts forth a decent performance in what appears to be a rare starring role. Granted this is a ridiculous premise for a film, but if you're simply a fan of the ambiance of the Italian thriller, and the Gothic backdrop of Italy then Dial: Help might be worth a glimpse. It may not be one to call home about but it's not completely devoid of a dial-tone.