It All Happens In The Dark

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Dial M for Mediocre

Long Distance (2005)

I have great affection for Monica Keena. Don’t ask me why, I can’t tell you. I believe it probably all goes back to her days on Dawson’s Creek and her portrayal of Abby Morgan. Since then I have followed her work – not religiously, but enough so that if she had not been in Long Distance, I would not have watched it. Unless it featured Melissa Sue Anderson and then all bets are off.

We begin with some standard horror tropes: bloody sheets, a butcher knife, a phone off the hook. “If you’d like to make a call please hang up and try again…”

We’re introduced to Nicole Freeman, played by Ms. Keena. She checks her mail with the intensity of Ellen Burstyn in Requiem For a Dream waiting to hear from Tappy Tibbons.

Nicole lives in an apartment in Boston, is a graduate student working on her thesis and recently broke up with her boyfriend. Her mother appears to be the only person that calls her. She cooks T.V. dinners, drinks red wine and does her laundry at one-thirty in the morning. She is lonely, yo.

Her mother is a super fine lady who when she discovers Nicole has broken up with her boyfriend says things like:” Was it something you did? You probably overreacted to something. I loved him! He’s the best boyfriend you’ve ever had! You should do whatever it takes to get back together.”

After this pep talk she hangs up on her mother, but swallows her pride and phones her again. She dials the wrong number. The wrong number calls her back. He’s a serial killer (of course) and he’s calling from the house of the latest woman he slaughtered. Nicole does not know this yet. She thinks he’s just a creep. She says “it’s been real” and “stop calling me.”

Nicole’s neighbor across the way is an exhibitionist, always changing her shirt in front of her window without drawing the curtains – this seems to fascinate Nicole. The exhibitionist asks Nicole about her boyfriend, Chris. She hasn’t seen him around lately. Nicole hates this nudist neighbor. The maintenance man in the building says pretty much the same thing to Nicole – I noticed that man of yours is M.I.A.

Police Detective, Frank Hasley (Ivan Martin) shows up at Nicole’s apartment. He is wondering why Nicole called the dead girl’s house and why the dead girl called her back. Nicole says she was talking to who ‘Just Your Average Joe’ – the name the ominous caller supplied her with. She said she called him by mistake, he kept calling her back, he was annoying, she doesn’t know anything about no murder.

The killer, having found a kindred spirit, or so he believes, continues calling Nicole, each time from a soon to be crime scene. Detective Frank taps Nicole’s phone and they start tracing the calls, but the police never do seem to arrive in time. The FBI comes aboard, with criminal psychologist Margaret Wright (Tamala Jones) joining the twosome at Nicole’s apartment.

The killer is on his way to Boston, to meet Nicole face to face, and in each state he passes through he leaves a body behind.

When Average Joe finally does arrive at Nicole’s abode, the power is out, a storming is raging and the detective is in the basement flipping the breaker. This bit was pretty tense and did manage to put me on edge. The soundtrack during this portion of the film is doing the whole bang and clang thing from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I was surprised by how effective it was. I wish the rest of the movie was as successful as these scenes.

The film drops hints that this is going to be about more than just the serial killer stalking Nicole, and that something is going on with the exhibitionist neighbor and a secret Nicole is keeping about her boyfriend. You’ll most likely the big reveal was way before it rolled around. As per the rule that every film made now must have a twist ending, this one does try to pull the rug out from under us – think Session 9 lite dressed up in Scream hand-me-downs. Don’t accept the charges. C


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