Stay on the line for a nail-biting thriller ...

The Call starring Abigail Breslin as Casey Welson. PA Photo/Warner Brothers.

The Call starring Abigail Breslin as Casey Welson. PA Photo/Warner Brothers.

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Notwithstanding a ridiculous final act that seemingly belongs to a different film, The Call is a slick, nail-biting thriller that propels us close to the edge of our seats.

Director Brad Anderson cranks up tension with aplomb and the middle section is exhilarating, ricocheting between emergency services and a kidnap victim.

In a sadistic game of cat and mouse between a 911 call centre operator and a serial killer, operator Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) coolly advises Leah to lock herself in a room and remain on the line. But the plan goes awry and Jordan finds herself on the line with the intruder – unable to save the victim.

Jordan happens to be in the call centre “hive” when another distressed telephone call comes through and the operator takes charge, determined to make amends for Leah.

Once Eklund’s villain reaches his sanctuary and prepares to enact his twisted plan, screenwriter D’Ovidio cold calls for originality for his bloody denouement – but he only connects with a limp homage to Silence Of The Lambs replete with Berry as Jodie Foster.

After an engrossing build-up, we – and the film – deserve better.