Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, best known for playing the lead in the Swedish film adaptations of the Millennium series, stars in this Norwegian thriller as the battered mother of a battered boy hiding from their violent patriarch. Anna is understandably overprotective of her son Anders. She knows he’s too old to continue to share a room with her, so she determines the best way to loosen the cord if not cut it is to buy a radio-controlled baby monitor, the titular Babycall. Once activated, the Babycall picks up a crossed signal, and Anna hears all manner of psychologically significant mischief – specifically, it sounds as if a child has been murdered.
Although the film’s premise suggests a clever, high-concept thriller, in the hands of writer/director Sletaune it quickly degenerates into a schizophrenic mess of inept genre-mashing. Most of the actors try their best to save it: Vetle Qvenild Werring gives a fine performance as the caged Anders yearning for freedom, and Kristoffer Joner’s mild, lonely electronics shop assistant is just understated enough to be magnetic. But Rapace stands as the unexpected weak link, spending most of the film staring into space and breathing through her mouth.
Narratively, Babycall commits a cardinal crime against its audience: it solves the murder before the body is found. With no logical progression of clues, events or even thought leading up to the ‘twist’ ending, we’re left gaping not at the inevitable tragedy, but in wonder at how we ever got there in the first place.