Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Before you actually view the film, take a second to visualize the concept in your mind. Imagine "The Exorcist". Now place John Malkovich in the role of the exorcist and a sexy sports car in the role of the possessed (with an equally sexy Naomi Campbell in the role of the demon possessor to top it all off). Now imagine the famous bedroom scene from "The Exorcist", but replace the bedroom with a barn big enough for the possessed car to do doughnuts in. That's the basic premise behind this film. Oh and don't forget, Antoine Fuqua directed it. You might know him from a little movie he made called "Training Day". It won a couple of awards (Oscars I think they're called?)
With all these semi-big stars and hot cars doing stunts (and some decent special effects to top it off), I bet you're all wondering what the product tie-in is. Well if you must know, "The Call" was created as an ad for Pirelli P-Zero High Performance Tires. Pirelli was trying to emulate what BMW did a few years earlier by commissioning a series of shorts as advertising for their product. (see an earlier post on this blog). The other short in the series features Uma Thurman driving a yellow Lamborghini in one of the most cliche, overindulgent car chase sequences I've ever seen. Using film as a vehicle (no pun intended) for advertising? What an original concept!
Actually though, I kind of enjoyed the homage (if that's the right term to use) to "The Exorcist". A lot of the shots capture the spirit of the first part of the classic it idolizes (hope you have a grain of salt ready). I liked the clever (if not overt) religious/demonic references such as the radio frequency (66.6? Well gee...) and the holy water that the possessed so defiantly brushes off with a swipe of the windshield wipers. Also, I think a fire-spitting sports car is just a bit more intimidating, although a bit less creepy, than a young, puke-spewing Linda Blair. The ignited "No" that the possessed so artfully writes on the ground is also quite clever. At this point, I almost thought that I would be satisfied by this film's quality.
But then came the advertising. When the exorcist (who is unfortunatley played by one of my favorite actors, John Malkovich) reveals his ultimate exorcism tool, I was crushed with disappointment. Expensive sports car tires as an instrument of the divine? Not so sure about that. It also was much too abrupt. The tires just kind of appeared without warning. I was a little caught off guard by the sudden commercialism of it all, especially the little slogan insert at the end.
So what's the lesson here? If you ever need to exorcise a demon from your automobile, head down to your local tire store and buy some new, shiny, expensive tires. They can tame even the wildest four-wheeled fiend. For our purposes as film geeks though, the lesson of this film is advertising and film don't always go together.