Saturday, October 15, 2011

10-15-11: The Third Part in Larry Cohen's Phone Trilogy

MESSAGES DELETED (2009) ** D: Rob Cowan. Matthew Lillard, Deborah Kara Unger, Gina Holden.

A screenwriter/college professor checks his messages and is shocked to hear a call from a complete stranger begging him to save them from a killer. As the body count mounts he struggles to piece things together and keep the ever suspicious police at bay.

That is the premise of this thriller written by Larry Cohen. This is more or less a "Phone Trilogy" as Cohen also penned the "Phone Booth" and "Cellular." Two other thrillers that revolved around communication between hunter and prey via telephone. Those were much better films.

For a movie that is clearly self-aware about story cliches, after all the protagonist is a screenwriter, it finds itself dishing one cliche after another. There is no real level of suspense and if you're paying attention you'll have already figured it out.

The film's only saving grace is Cohen's dark wit when taking jabs at the business of screenwriting itself. Other than that, you're better off watching "Phone Booth" or "Cellular" and skipping this one.

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