Next Caller (2009)

next callerBeware skeptics. If you have a radio show and you’re daring to tap in to the supernatural, the odds are you’re going to get knocked the fuck out by some spooks and ghouls. That’s the case for Handsome Billy Bob Brown, the local shock jock in town who causes trouble by pissing people off and has been handed the duties of covering outlandish topics like UFO’s and the after life. Patrick Rea seems to be building a compendium of short films that could work as a horror anthology if given enough time and clout and I’d definitely buy it.

Allan Kayser is great as the rabble rousing and utterly obnoxious Handsome Billy Bob, a typical Howard Stern wannabe relegated to talking about undead cats and grandmas choking on steaks. But when he meets Amy Fowler, a bonafide supernatural beacon, he comes to the realization that it’s not all hogwash. As with all of Rea’s short films, “Next Caller” is reliant on making the best out of limited scenery and a small budget and lo and behold he pulls off a one setting film that is really only good for a short format. The ultimate pay off paired with the collective performances keep “Next Caller” another good and sleek entry in to Rea’s horror repertoire.

The problem with the short horror films is that you will sooner or later come across a story that you’ve seen before. “Next Caller” is that particular case where I was most underwhelmed because I’ve seen this before. As a matter of fact I’ve seen this almost a hundred times around. This type of evil radio DJ battles the supernatural before has been seen in horror fare like “Tales from the Darkside” and “Night Visions” as well as a few forgettable thrillers and Rea really doesn’t re-invent the wheel with “Next Call” which is a shame considering most of his shorts have been unique and original.

As for most of the calls we see Handsome Bob come in contact with, in spite of Rea’s struggles to keep them suspenseful, I really couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Who knew Satan was on mental speed dial and adhered to the whims of a psychic? Who didn’t see the big twist with Handsome Bob choking in the climax? Out of all the short films from Patrick Rea, “Next Caller” really isn’t the best he’s offered. The direction is as good as always, and Allan Kayser is steals this movie from everyone involved, but that doesn’t particularly help outweigh the contrived plot and cheesy devices that ensue. While “Next Caller” is the weakest of the outputs so far, there’s no denying that Rea’s signature brand of sharp horror mixed with hilarious dark comedy keeps an otherwise sub-par affair pretty entertaining.