Eight-year-old David Sandborn is the creepiest little bastard in the whole wide world, and things, and people, tend to end up dead when they’re around him. And now a foursome of kidnappers, led by Sydney (Michael Rooker), have just abducted the hellspawn from his birthday party with plans to ransom him back to his mother. Of course, as the saying goes, “the best laid plans…” because David isn’t just creepy, but he seems to know everything about his kidnappers, including all their vulnerable spots and how to exploit them. What’s that, Sydney, you say you have a bad heart…?
“Whisper” stars Sarah Wayne Callies and Josh Holloway (from TV’s Prison Break and Lost, respectively) as lovers who are roped into the kidnapping scheme after Max’s (Holloway) dream of getting a loan to open that quaint little restaurant he’s had his eyes on falls through. Roxanne (Callies) doesn’t much care for the crime, but since her boyfriend is in on the deal, she comes along. Plus, it helps to have a female presence to calm the kidnapped kid. The final piece of the kidnap-and-ransom foursome is Vince (Joel Edgerton), the troublesome tech whiz of the crew.
Written by Christopher Borrelli and directed by Stewart Hendler, “Whisper” quickly gets to the heart of the matter: namely that kidnapped victim David is much, much worst than the people who have kidnapped him. Before long, Sydney is trying desperately to call 9-1-1 from their safe house. The foursome, now a threesome, decides to continue on with their ransom idea, but after David thwarts their first ransom demand call to his mother (Stargate SG-1’s Teryl Rothery), things get a bit more complicated for everyone. Except for David, of course, who is perfectly in control. Of everything.
“Whisper” ditches its thriller elements for a horror movie very early on, and in no time David is manipulating every member of the gang with ease. But this also provides something of a dilemma for the film: David’s powers are shown much too early, and after he’s successfully killed a member of the gang by reminding him of his past deeds, David as a character essentially becomes Jason Voorhees minus the hockey mask. There is also a side mystery about a mastermind who is orchestrating the kidnapping, although viewers may figure this one out before the reveal if they try hard enough. There is also a subplot about a young black Detective (Dule Hill) trying to make a name for himself that seems to have been thrown in to pad the running time.
So who are we supposed to root for, if anyone? I can’t tell. The kidnappers are, of course, criminals that kidnap young boys to ransom back to their rich parents, and so they’re no angels. Then again, David is the anti-thesis of an angel, and is quite possibly the Devil in disguise. There’s also the idea that Max, Roxanne, and their co-horts are complete doofuses. Why? Because the first time young Max tells me my deepest, darkest secrets, something I have never told anyone, I would have thrown the kid into the frozen pond at the back of the house, ransom be damned.
As played by Blake Woodruff, David is quite possibly the creepiest, most evil kid in the history of cinema, and one conversation with him would have told you that. Eight years old or not, this kid is going into the frozen pond if I were one of the kidnappers. But hey, maybe that’s just me. Roxanne seems to be entirely too gullible, even though there is an excuse for her easy manipulation by David. Josh Holloway has the film’s most complicated role, and Max is actually a pretty good guy who always tries to do the right thing, even in impossible situations like the ones he finds himself in. Then again, maybe he shouldn’t have agreed to the kidnapping in the first place…
“Whisper” is very much a horror film, although I’m not sure how it will appeal to the genre base. There isn’t nearly enough gore to satisfy the hounds, and the T&A consists of a post-shower scene with Sarah Wayne Callies. As for scares, most of that is generated from “was it real or was it a dream” sequences that gets annoying after a while. Curiously, Hendler and Borrelli offer up an ending that, while very satisfying, would seem to rule out any possibility of a sequel. Or does it?
Stewart Hendler (director) / Christopher Borrelli (screenplay)
CAST: Josh Holloway … Max Truemont
Blake Woodruff … David Sandborn
Joel Edgerton … Vince Delayo
Sarah Wayne Callies … Roxanne
Dulé Hill … Detective Miles
Teryl Rothery … Catherine Sandborn
Michael Rooker … Sydney Braverman