Plot: Dr. Jill (Georgina Haig) is a popular radio personality, a tough love advocate who fields relationship woes from her listeners and more often than not, recommends to cut the boyfriend or husband loose. Although she wants her troubled listeners to find their happiness and true loves, she also doesn’t show much patience for their questionable choices. At least not while she’s on the air, as her banter with regular callers usually leads to a spike in ratings, which her station loves. So at times, she is a little more judgmental than perhaps she’d like to be, which is why one incident went to a much darker place than she ever imagined. A regular caller named Alexis has been dumped and when Dr. Jill tells her to move on, the distressed woman takes her own life, live during the phone in. In the wake of the experience, Jill leaves the show and is racked with guilt, but she is soon lured back, as the station needs her consistent ratings. But when a voice from the past seems to be reaching out to her once again, can Dr. Jill figure out the truth about the mysterious calls?
Entertainment Value: This Lifetime thriller is well crafted and well performed, but I just didn’t connect with When Murder Calls, as it lacked the kind of wild twists and rampant melodrama I had hoped for. The narrative is fine and sets up a traditional style thriller, one that is much more grounded than most of Lifetime’s movies, but that isn’t a bad thing to all viewers. There is a demand for more grounded thrillers like this, so for those who appreciate the lessened melodrama and craziness, When Murder Calls is likely to be a solid watch. The film layers in some solid psychological elements, making us wonder what is real and what might be in Jill’s head, while also building effective tension from the start. So yes, this is a rather traditional approach to the genre, the movie hits all the notes you want from a thriller, including some good misdirection. But I wasn’t that taken with this one, as I prefer the more dialed up take on thrillers Lifetime is known for and this more standard mystery didn’t reel me in. Even so, I found it to be well made and I can easily see fans of more toned down thrillers having a good time here, so for that audience, When Murder Calls is recommended.
The performances in this one are in line with the rest of the movie, so they’re solid and more on the grounded side. Georgina Haig has the lead role and she is quite good, able to be the sharp, snarky radio host, then give us a down to earth personal side of Dr. Jill, so she shows some good range. She is also quite likable, not a common trait for Lifetime thriller protagonists. I also appreciated that while law enforcement isn’t portrayed as all that helpful or aware, Dr. Jill herself is much less naive than usual for this kind of role, even while under mental duress. I would have liked to see more melodrama, especially as Dr. Jill deals with the mysterious calls, but for those who prefer the more believable route, this is a good performance. I also wish we had a wild, over the top villain, but again, that wouldn’t have been at home in this material. The cast also includes John Ralston, Marc Senior, Stefanie Nakamura, and Carrie-Lynn Neales.
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