Pedro Across The Street
It’s All In Your Head
Me, Myself & Darlene
The Universe Did It
Is There A Scientist On the Plane?
Leap Year Girl
Calls is unlike anything else you’ll watch this year. In fact, watch may actually be a bit of a stretch. Instead, this experimental series combines smart storytelling in an audio-transcribed format, complete with a gripping mystery and a really spooky atmosphere. It’s also a show that you need to go in with absolutely no prior knowledge or preconceptions to get the most out of it.
In its simplest form, Calls feels like a combination of Netflix series Dark, BAFTA winning videogame Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture and the true crime docu-series The Confession Tapes. Each of these 12-20 minute episodes play out with a telephone conversation between two or more characters.
Within these, paranormal or unexplained phenomena occur which plays into a larger story encapsulating the whole show. I won’t spoil anything here, but this show rewards you with a wonderful ending so it is worth binging through to the end.
The first episode essentially sets the scene and takes around 5 minutes or so to get into. What seems like a simple conversation soon takes a turn for the horrific, and from here onwards Calls grabs you by the scruff of the neck and never lets go.
The rest of the episodes then cut back in time to see what’s led to this point, with 4 or 5 episodes dedicated to different characters and their experiences with this strange phenomena.
The final two episodes essentially link together, closing things out with a satisfying conclusion that wraps everything up neatly and actually explains what’s going on. Make no mistake about it though, Calls is a cerebrally challenging show, encouraging viewers to use their imaginations to paint a portrait of who these people are and what they look like.
For some this will be an irritation, but given the story being told no other format feels like it would work quite so effectively as this one. When the twists arrive – and there are quite a few of them here – they feel that much more rewarding and hard-hitting.
The visuals themselves seem simplistic on the surface but quite impressively play into the themes and ideas in that given episode. Early on, two lines form a cross and the camera swings lazily between the two depending on who’s talking to who in a three-way conversation involving a shady neighbour.
Another time, the visuals look like a 3D topography projection – fitting given the character here is a plane captain. These instances continue right the way through the show and change between episodes quite brilliantly.. Equally though, you could just close your eyes and shut off all the lights, listening to this play out.
On the subject of audio though, Calls works better when watched with headphones or with a surround sound set-up. The left and right audio channels are incredibly important, and even more so when the dialogue starts overlapping. The voice acting really lends itself well to some of the more urgent and sinister segments, and there’s a great cast of players lending their voices to this one.
Calls is quite simply brilliant. It’s a spooky, atmospheric series that challenges you to think and to use your imagination. This will undoubtedly make or break your experience and there will be a lot of people who turn this off and won’t fancy what this has to offer.
If you can go in with some patience though and take to the format, Calls is a real rollercoaster ride of emotion, culminating in one of the scariest, eye-opening and thrilling shows of 2021.
Calls launches on Apple TV+ on March 19th 2021!
Verdict - 9/10