Susan Sarandon has been many things in her career, but in charge of a serial killer investigation is a rare turn for the versatile actress.
Here she delivers a strong performance as a small town police officer with a drink problem and an aversion to the rules in Jason Stone’s gritty crime thriller, based on the novel of the same name by Inger Ash Wolfe.
Hazel Micallef (Sarandon) lives in the rural Ontario community of Fort Dundas, where she is the local police inspector, solving occasional misdemeanours with the help of detective Ray Green (Gil Bellows). When one of the locals raises the alarm about his elderly mother, Hazel reluctantly makes a house call and finds the owner murdered, with a deep slash to the throat.
Evidence at the scene intrigues Hazel and she discovers her victim is the latest in a series of killings across the 10 provinces of Canada.
Out of her depth but determined to crack the case, Hazel searches for clues with Ray and officer Ben Wingate (Topher Grace), who has recently transferred from Toronto.
The three cops eventually identify a healer called Simon (Christopher Heyerdahl) as their prime suspect.
The snow and cinematography create a Fargo-style atmosphere in the sleepy Canadian town.
At the heart of The Calling is a sub-plot concerning early Christian mysticism, making use of veteran star Donald Sutherland as Father Price.
But despite its pretensions, this is simply a solid serial killer drama with sufficient substance to mitigate a ludicrous denouement.
The now 68-year-old Sarandon deserved a better script but, when push comes to shove, a mature Oscar-winner still at the top of her game raises this thriller above the source material.