This review has been on the blog back burner for a very long time so it’s good to finally get it out. It’s a retro murder mystery with hypnosis in it. The latter isn’t all that common so it gives a pretty original hook to the plot. I don’t really buy into hypnosis myself as every time I’ve experienced it in real life, it’s been a fraud. Naturally, as this is a film, it is exaggerated as well. Still, it’s a fun concept and if it was real, it would certainly be a very dangerous tool.
Mark is a pretty well known neurologist. He has done a good job of helping people over the years, but unfortunately his private life is a bit of a mess. His wife has been openly cheating on him and Mark can’t go for a divorce without her consent. As he drowns in his sorrows, Mark wakes up one morning to find that the cops have arrived. They tell him that his wife has been murdered and Mark is the main suspect. Mark doesn’t remember murdering her, but he can’t really remember anything. The only chance is if he hypnotizes himself, but what if the murderer is closer than he thinks?
It’s safe to say that this film would have probably lost some points if Mark had actually destroyed his wife. A good murder mystery should never revert to having the main lead actually turn out to be evil. On the other hand, there aren’t a whole lot of suspects here so you have to try and make your guess right away. The wife isn’t a suspect even if she was a very unlikable character. There’s the rebound guy I suppose. Bob is another unlikable character and like Maria, he is married as well. I guess both of them wanted to cheat so they just met up together. Apparently it seems like Bob was doing it for the money or something. There were some twists about that, but it didn’t really matter much and I didn’t care for the subplot.
If we can count him as a suspect, there’s also Officer Gregg. He’s a detective who comes over to Mark with this revelation. I may as well say that he is the best character in the film by the way. He has a pretty good idea of what’s going on and at the very end of the film, he admits that he knew who the guilty party was the entire time. He had basically just been playing the entire cast like a fiddle because he knew that he could. He needed the hard evidence and this was the best way. Gregg just stole the show as far as I’m concerned.
We’ve also got Mark’s secretary, Stella. I can’t say that I was a fan of Stella either. Granted, Mark wanted to get a divorce from Maria, but he didn’t yet and it felt like these two were trying to make a connection anyway. Stella was pretty quick to lie to the cops in order to protect Mark so that’s a good thing I suppose. This does give her a motive for taking out Maria, but is it a red herring?
As for Mark, I can’t say that he’s a great character either. He didn’t handle the whole situation all that well at all and if his memory were better, everything could have been a little different. He wasn’t a terrible lead or anything like that and did ultimately make the right decision in not letting someone get the death penalty for a murder that wasn’t his. I don’t like the guy, but he at least had some decency.
Now, it probably sounds like this film is pretty bad based on the cast. Gregg’s the only character that I liked after all, but granted..this film had a very small cast so maybe that’s understandable. I’d still say that this film was decently good. It was an interesting film first and foremost. It was easy to stay interested in the plot and it never dragged on for a very long time or anything like that. The hypnosis angle didn’t happen for too long so it didn’t get boring and it was a decent way of looking at flashbacks. Hearing the main character talking in a bored voice was a little boring, but the scene wasn’t all that long either.
Overall, Calling Dr. Death is a fairly short film that is straight to the point. The cast is very small so there aren’t a lot of guys running around and as a result, there’s not a whole lot to say about it in the end. It doesn’t go for cheap shock value or anything like that. The way that the wife died was a little violent, but it’s never shown or anything so it’s not as bad as it could be. I’d recommend this to people that like a slow burner mystery thriller. It’s not going to be as high octane and nonstop excitement as a modern thriller like Taken, but it works pretty well within the budget that it had. At the very least, it’s still fairly memorable so the film did something right. Just be on the lookout for Gregg, you’ll see why he completely outshines the rest of the cast. It’s also another cautionary tale for people who are rich and don’t suspect a thing as they marry someone super quickly. As in this film, sometimes the person is just after the money.