If you watch network television, every U.S. city is plagued by a dozen serial killers at all times. Not so our friendly neighbors to the north, or at least that's what Jason Stone's brooding The Calling would have us believe. Hazel Micallef (Susan Sarandon) is sheriff of a sleepy Canadian town shaken by the murder of an elderly woman in her home. When another body is discovered in a (relatively) nearby community, and when the postmortem manipulation of both bodies is revealed, Micallef is forced to send for backup, which arrives in the form of Topher Grace. Oh, Canada. It's an unwritten rule of movies that every aging cop must be depicted in the way that best demonstrates how the years have beaten them down. This is doubly the case with female cops, judging by Sarandon's world-weary deportment, which nonetheless anchors the ominous proceedings.
Reminiscent of Fargo and Se7en, Stone, in his directorial debut, keeps the pace brisk and the action realistic. He's also given a tremendous assist by an imposing cast that -- in addition to Sarandon -- includes Ellen Burstyn as Micallef's mother and Donald Sutherland as a priest who may hold the key to tracking down the murderer. And Topher Grace. There aren't any real surprises here, especially once the killer's motive becomes apparent. Still, The Calling breathes new life into a moribund genre by touching oft-ignored themes and offering a bit of introspection to go along with the obligatory slashed throats and biblical portents.