A spine tingling psychological thriller, Danish director Gustav Möller’s debut feature about an emergency police dispatcher who takes ‘the call from Hell’, pulls no punches.
The Guilty is a taut, minimalistic psychodrama that reels the viewer in slowly – a bit like a fisherman with a particularly delicate catch.
The film begins ominously, with several calls to the police emergency centre that focus on mugging and other general crimes.
However, the ante is raised when temporary despatcher and reassigned police officer Asger Holm, (superbly played by Jakob Cedergren), takes a call from a disturbed woman who says she has been kidnapped.
The woman Iben (voiced by Jessica Dinnage) is calling from the back of a van, and the plot thickens as she describes in a guarded and cautious fashion how she has two young children and they have also been put in great danger.
Such is the atmosphere in this film you can practically cut it with a knife, despite it being filmed in just two rooms and involving just the one main actor on screen.
The rest of the story is played out on the phone: with Holm gradually becoming so involved in the case that he continues to work on it even after his shift finishes.
To add even more spice to the story, it emerges that Holm is currently under investigation by the authorities – and due to appear at a police hearing the next day.
The screenplay, co-written by Möller and Emil Nygaard Albertsen, is sharp and extremely gripping – with the simple telephone cleverly used as a tool of suspense.
Cedergren’s performance is masterful and, despite his raw emotions and overwhelming passion while conversing on the phone to Iben, he still manages to keep it all together and call the relevant authorities in an attempt to identify the kidnapper.
To say more would jeopardise the audience’s enjoyment of this incredible thriller, as it is definitely a case of: ‘The less you know – the more enthralling it becomes.’
The Guilty won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award (World Cinema Dramatic) and the International Film Festival Rotterdam Audience and Youth Jury awards.
It commences at Luna Leederville on February 28, 2019.
By Mike Peeters