Make the Call (2023) [Cinequest 2024]

Chelsea Gonzalez’s short horror film really manages to be an outstanding piece of filmmaking from top to bottom. It’s a horror movie that’s teeming with social commentary about spousal abuse, domestic dysfunction, and our ability to sacrifice our own health to protect our own façade of domestic bliss. I loved every moment of “Make the Call” as writer Sal Neslusan knows how to perfectly explore this unusual situation within its small window of time and perfectly illustrate how these domestic situations can rip apart friendships and lives.

Annie and Caro were best friends until a plague that turns American citizens into bloodthirsty monsters overtakes the country. Tonight, they reunite to finally find a way to rekindle their friendship. Can Annie and Caro bury the past behind them, or will Annie be forced to make the call that will change her friend’s life forever. 

Of course, the whole idea of an infection that causes rage and violence is an allegory for the husband’s inherent anger issues. However, the whole situation becomes ever more tense as there is this inherent pressure from Annie to adhere to what she calls “patriotic duty.” There’s such a weird tension from the moment Annie and Caro re-unite and we’re given keen insight in to their awkwardness with brief flashbacks in to the night that changed their lives forever.

With the whole premise that’s presented, it’s a clear cut statement about those living with domestic violence that choose to ignore it. It’s only a matter of time before the violence is turned on you. By then it would have probably been too late. Gonzalez’s direction matched with the strong performances by Sal Neslusan and Camille Chen turn “Make the Call” in to a stark, disturbing, and brutally heartbreaking cautionary tale. It stuck with me from the opening to the downright grotesque final scene.

Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival occurs in San Jose March 7th – March 17th.