The Call Up (15) | Close-Up Film Review

The Call Up

Dir. Charles Barker, US, 2016, 87 mins

Cast: Parker Sawyers, Max Deacon, Morfydd Clark

The Call Up revolves around a virtual reality world that becomes more than just a computer game when the gamers begin to suffer the consequences of their gaming actions.

When a group of online gamers are called upon to participate in a trial state-of-the-art virtual reality video game, they think it is a dream come true and jump at the opportunity. When they arrive at the test building, they are given high-tech outfits and placed into a simulation that brings them into a war zone. At first these new recruits take this experience in their stride, learning as they go and take each moment as it comes. However, what begins as a new and enthralling prospect soon becomes a little to real and fighting for survival becomes the main objective.

For the gamers, it appears everything is set in one white room but when the visor goes down, they are in a building surrounded by a war zone where they are being hunted down and shot at. As the game proceeds, the gamers become a little concerned that things are for more realistic than they had ever believed was possible. When a gamer is shot for the first time they lose their protection vest, but a second shot leaves a gaping hole in the mid-rift and as the pain soars through, the team comes to the understanding this is no longer a game, this is someone’s idea of a very twisted reality, one whereby a shot feels real and yet an injection can heal the wound. There is no pause in this game, it continues even though the visors are up. Make a mistake in the “game” and the mistake may cause you your life.

When it comes to the acting ability of those on screen, there are no individuals that stand out for their capabilities. Everyone tends to blend together as a gaming group rather than having any individual talents.

Considering the gaming aspect of the movie is about fighting your way through a war zone, this section is based entirely in one building as the gamers go from one floor to the next just trying to find a way of escaping and not dying. There are no shocking death scenes, no dynamic explosions or battles; in fact the entire virtual reality aspect is quite disappointing.

As the game concludes and with only two survivors left standing, there is a little twist as to who is behind the gaming process yet by this point, this is not as shocking as one may have hoped and viewers are not left dazed.

Although The Call Up it is a stimulating idea, it never really takes off. The plot is quite a extraordinary one where gamers are placed into a virtual reality world where if you get hurt in the game you get hurt in reality, however it lacks any real fast paced action packed moments.

Review by Michelle Moore


The Call Up is in UK cinemas from 20 May and on DVD and Digital from 23 May.