When I first saw that clip in the Spill review, I could barely contain myself in my chair for all my laughing. It's not because it was a hilarious send-up of One Missed Call or anyof its contemporaries:
It's because the idea is basically a feature film adaptation of a short film I made early last year. It was called "Hell Phone," and it was about a guy whose phone starts talking to him, and at the end it bites into his ear and takes control of his body, using him to lure his unsuspecting girlfriend right into the phone's trap.
I personally don't rate Sarah's analysis of the film at all, at least not as it applies to my version. Being surrounded by technology is not really a bad thing. Phones are only tools, and they make life much easier as long as they don't become self aware. Since they haven't yet, any commentary on them hold no water until we get a scene like this:
I think what motivated me to make "Hell Phone" when my friend Bill approached with the idea (rest in peace, buddy), apart from the sheer awesomeness of a killer phone, was the concept that as technology enables people to connect and communicate across space and time never thought possible, it can't substitute for face-to-face human interaction. Those who expect that end up insolated (kinda like Shelley and her boyfriend or Randy's porn obsession in last week's South Park).
"Hell Phone" begins when the main character Sean receives a call from his girlfriend Bri, they're making small talk when Bri visits him at home, ignorant of having called him. Her voice over the phone morphs into that of a man, and Sean realizes that he hadn't been talking to Bri at all. Confused, he tells Bri to keep her distance and locks her out of his apartment without explanation, inadvertently dooming them both.
Whether the phone was the product of Sean's dwindling sanity or somehow brought to life via magick or technology is never made clear, and the phone mocks Sean's attempt to explain the phenomenon. Whatever its origins or motivations, it serves the necessary function of externalizing the inner conflicts of the characters by coming between them, driving their isolation.
Because the film is only 2 1/2 minutes long, the characters aren't very well established and most of this is completely lost. Reaction to the film has been unanimously positive, but split between those who were genuinely creeped out and those who enjoyed the humorous undertones (it is about a killer cell phone, afterall). I consider it a mixed success.
My idol Werner Herzog shared some thoughts on the relationship between isolation and technology in an interview about his non-musical remake of Nosferatu:
"Stoker's novel is a kind of compilation of vampire stories floating around from romantic times. What is interesting is that it focusses so much on new technology; for example, the use of telegraphs and early recording machines, the Edison cylinders. Like the changes society was undergoing in the 19th century, there may well be something taking place today, as for some time we have been living in the digital age. In both cases, there is something of an uneasiness in society, and vampire stories always seem to accumulate in times of restlessness. [...] At it's heart, the vampire story is about solitude and now, more than a century later, as we witness this explosive evolution of means of communication, Stoker's work has a real and powerful actuality to it."
As short-sighted and self-indulgent as Sarah Marshall'sviews on her film are (the kettle is black, I say!), I think people might be a little too dismissive about relating technology with the supernatural. Anyone else notice the resurgence in raw footage horror films this year (i.e. Cloverfield, Diary Of The Dead, [*REC])?
Anyway, the only reasons I don't sue are because Forgetting Sarah Marshall was really awesome, I can't prove (and highly doubt) that any of the filmmakers actually saw "Hell Phone," I'd have to admit to unauthorized use of copyrighted music, and the French already beat them to the punch.