The screening for Babycall was pretty well attended, but I have to admit that the audience reaction afterwards was a little mixed and some of us were rather confused. It may not be the film you are expecting, it certainly wasn't for some of the audience and myself included.
It's difficult to relate the plot of the film to the actual film I've seen because there is another sub-plot running along regarding a lonely man that she meets at the electronics store where she buys the baby monitor, however the problem is that neither this plot line or the baby monitor plot line have much to do with the actual story.
Really the story concerns the woman herself and the rest of the story is rather redundant, in fact the baby monitor story is a diversion that serves no other purpose than to pull you away from the actual story, and that's a shame because we went into the film believing this is what the film would be about and we even get to see some interesting turns to the story that could have been.
The screams on the baby monitor, the tracking down of where the signal comes from, and her notebook that mixes her own diary with notations of when and what the messages are she overhears are all very intriguing. There are some strong hints that this could be a really interesting thriller and a hell of a creepy story, however they are presented in a very haphazard way and only mentioned a few times on screen as an aside more than anything. The fact that she's been keeping a careful diary of the messages she's been hearing on the monitor muddled together with her own thoughts is shown in a brief shot, perhaps two, and they are blink and you'll miss it moments. It's something I couldn't understand as they present a hugely interesting plot line and one that reinforces the final outcome of the film.
In fact the real story of what's happening on the other side, the diary, the real story, all of these things are mishandled and it becomes confusing rather than having the effect of a distraction from what the story could be. I'm not saying which way things turn out or which plot is the one to be watching, it's just that these threads should have been made much more of and as it turns out were hugely ineffective.
That said the film, and Noomi Rapace's performance, do manage to add an edge to the story and the film, building tension and uncertainty, even if that uncertainty is born out of confusion as to where the story is really taking us. The uncertainty as to what Rapace's character is really experiencing helps to add an uneasiness, especially with the confusion from the support workers who visit the home and the child who is clearly experiencing some form of abuse be it physical or otherwise.
Still, it's clearly pointed out which way your beliefs should lie in the film quite early on, and while things are made confusing for you so that you can't say with complete certainty that you know how it's going to play out, you do see the signs and the power of the mystery is lost, so much so that come the end the confusion has taken over and I certainly found myself detached and rather uninterested in the ultimate reveal, a reveal which seems tacked on and after the fact and almost meaningless.
The ending does come with some surprise, but considering the opening it's not a big surprise and with the mystery surrounding the story almost completely showing its hand early on it does feel rather flat.
Rapace is good in her role but I did find that of Kristoffer Joner much more engaging and interesting, and you can perhaps see why come the end of the film you have far more sympathy and emotional involvement for his character than of Rapace's, actually it's fair to say you feel that way for most of the film.
Babycall is a strange film, I had hoped that it was going to be an interesting thriller and add to the growing reputation of Noomi Rapace delivering a thriller based around the premise and the title of the film where a mother buys a baby monitor and hears the cries and conversations from another baby monitor and not the one placed in her son's room. Yet this premise isn't what the film is really about, and while it's there, it isn't the story we're shown.
We're presented with some possibilities and potentials but the story plays out without hiding too much, just offering confusion and mishandled redirections that ultimately don't feel as though they pay off in the end and it all seems rather futile and a wasted opportunity.