While undergoing a difficult divorce, Mary moves into a new apartment for a fresh start. She is charmed to find an old rotary telephone and she leaves it out for decoration. Soon after moving in, a woman named Rose starts calling her on the phone asking to speak to “Bobby”. Mary repeatedly informs the woman that no one by that name lives at the address. Over time she finds herself staying on the phone with the woman longer and longer because both are somewhat lonely. One day the woman reveals that her husband Bobby cheats on her. She also tells Mary that it is 1979. Apparently Rose used to live in the apartment and somehow the rotary phone acts as a conduit to the past. Mary, of course, does not believe any of this and asks Rose to stop calling her. Undeterred Rose continues to call and soon Mary realizes that what Rose does in the past impacts on Mary’s present life (e.g. is Rose draws on a wall it will appear on Mary’s wall, faded). Mary also concludes that Rose is insane and if Rose is unhappy with Mary, Mary’s life is in jeopardy, especially given that Mary is a little girl in 1979.
Granted the script is a bit thin but this is the first film I’ve watched this season that really captivated me. Rose (Lorna Raver) is effectively creepy as the faceless nemesis that is easily insulted and vengeful. There are several tense phone conversations where Mary must remain calm because she realizes that an angry Rose is a deadly Rose. Why not a higher rating? As much as I enjoyed The Caller it suffers from the ‘Prometheus problem’; Mary does not behave the way someone would behave given the situation. First of all, unplug the damn phone! Change the phone number! Never answer the phone – there would be no voicemail! Second of all, Mary instantly believes Rose when she is informed that Rose is calling from 1979. Really? If you can overlook these things than you’re in for a Twilight Zone-ish treat.