Don’t Hang Up (2017) Review

Solid thriller with some familiar themes tries twist on home-invasion genre.

Don’t Hang Up is a 2017 horror film about a pair of teen pranksters who get the tables turned on them when a mysterious stranger comes to play … with deadly consequences.

It begins with a woman in bed, woken by police who tell her that she and her daughter are in danger as a stranger, possibly two, are in her house and that she must remain in her room and most importantly, don’t hang up. She’s told that they’ve entered the house but the daughter has been shot. In horror, the woman breaks down and runs from the room not hearing that well, it’s just a prank. It then cuts to two teen boys who post video pranks online to great success. Under the online moniker PrankMonkey69, their calls have victims believing that loved ones are dead or cheating on them and they think each are the funniest ever.

One evening, the boys, Sam (Gregg Sulkin) and Brady (Garrett Clayton) go on a rampage of calls, pushing their pranks to a new level, even as Sam is distracted by his angry girlfriend Peyton (Bella Dayne) who wants him to stop, but then, they get a call themselves. A calm, somewhat electronic voice informs them that it’s their turn, and they soon learn that they are now trapped in a house of horrors as the their televisions and phones are all tapped and the man on the other end of the line has them convinced he has Brady’s parents and Peyton locked up and ready to die unless they play by his rules.

Co-directed by Damien Macé and Alexis Wajsbrot, Don’t Hang Up is a familiar feeling horror film about revenge with a mix of Saw and When A Stranger Calls that layers it all in some modern tech, even if it keeps firm to old standards. Filmed nearly entirely in one room, and on the two leads, the story focuses on attempting to tear the friendship apart as their tormentor exposes secrets and such that are meant to test them, all as sort of payback for their insensitive actions. This effectively splits the film into two parts, with the first a set up that develops the characters and their obnoxious patterns and the second, a straight-up home-invasion-esque bloodbath.

Don't hang Up
Don’t Hang Up, 2017 © Bigscope Films

There won’t be any surprises for fans of the genre, indeed, writer Joe Johnson returns to the well for several twists that we’ve seen a few times before, both in the first and second acts, but the good thing about movies and time is, there are always new audiences who haven’t seen what’s come before. The filmmakers do make good on the premise and have a number of well-executed sequences that play up tension well, even if they follow the formulas with precision. The problem really lies with the boys who are just wholly unlikable people, perhaps a prerequisite for the type would pull of the pranks they do, but even as we are meant to find some redeemable factors about them, nothing flips the soured flavor we have for them right from the start. They might not deserve what they endure, but there’s no denying it kinda feels good to see them get some of it back.

Don’t Hang Up is a solid little horror film, well-directed and acted with some genuine thrills here and there but can’t find anything innovative to help elevate it from the over-saturated genre. Better in the second half, this will make for a fun entry in a double feature movie fright night.

Don’t Hang Up (2017) Review

Movie description: Don't Hang Up is a 2017 horror film about a pair of teen pranksters who get the tables turned on them when a mysterious stranger comes to play ... with deadly consequences.

Director(s): Damien Macé, Alexis Wajsbrot

Actor(s): Sienna Guillory, Gregg Sulkin, Garrett Clayton

Genre: Horror

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