Streaming services have revolutionized the entertainment industry — you can't argue with that. Yes, their profitability is still in question: Netflix's debt has already approached the $15 billion mark, this is not even hidden. But during their time of dominance, online platforms have freed Directors and screenwriters from the need to look back at ratings and fees. TV series no longer need to compete for a profitable timeslot, and movies — for the number of sessions. Here it is — universal equality.
This fashion trend also reached Russia, and almost without delay, but here changes of a different nature began. Online cinemas have become an alternative to the mossy TV with its staples, self-censorship and bad reputation among the population under forty. The producers raced to shoot "Neformat", which they had long dreamed of. So appeared overloaded with sax " kept Women», "In a cage» with a cursing Priluchny, a topical " House arrest» and, of course, the most relevant TV series of the year — "Epidemic» Due to inertia, almost all of these projects eventually reached TV, but this time in a pruned, compromise version. It is clear that these shows were filmed primarily for a progressive Internet audience. Well, now the Premier service offers her a postmodern Thriller, where the motives of the " Saw» mixed with a children's song of the Soviet era.
Kirill, a young Muscovite, had a bad life. First, he works as a call center operator at an adult Boutique — and this is with an incomplete medical education under his belt. Secondly, his girlfriend sleeps with their mutual boss and even does not hide it very much. And third, on his birthday, Kirill, along with his colleagues, becomes a prisoner of some maniacs who call themselves "Parental control". Some "Mom" and "Dad" have locked the poor guys in a booby-trapped office and forced them to perform absurd, and sometimes extremely cruel tasks-from dancing in the Nude to chopping off fingers. At the same time, sadists know all the personal secrets of call center employees and reveal them in the course of the game.
The formula "sinners in a trap" was invented eighty years ago by Agatha Christie in her " Ten little Negroes». Since her patterns tailored dozens of films and TV series: from the comical "Evidence» before the bloody " mind Hunters» or, for example, a psychedelic " cube». Or all the same "Saw", especially the second one. However, the creators of the " Call center» they say that first of all they focused on another work — " to Stay alive».
The Russian project borrows a structure from the works of Abrams, Lindelof and Cuse: each episode has two storylines, one of which is the memories of one of the characters. And just like in Lost, these flashbacks turned out to be bright and not particularly believable. Whether by chance, or by the design of maniacs (this is not completely clear), a Moscow sex shop has gathered in its call center the most unlucky people in the country. One was recruited by radical Islamists, another was the illegitimate son of a paranoid oligarch, a third voluntarily sold herself into slavery to save her daughter, and so on. In all stories, the leitmotif of unfreedom is easily read. In fact, each of the participants of the brutal game was a hostage even before they got to the booby-trapped office. Someone literally, someone figuratively: a hostage of circumstances, a hostage of prejudices, even a hostage of his own body. And, of course, only after passing through painful trials can they truly be released... Or not. In General, everything is classic.
However, the "Call center" is not too Intrusive with its premise, because it is primarily an ironic Thriller. It is ironic, not comedic. Black humor manifests itself not in specific gags, but in the absurdity of situations, the reactions of characters, and the General tone of the narrative. Not all heroes were given a bright past, and therefore with conditionally worked-out personalities in the office, almost anecdotal archetypes coexist. Glamorous fool Yana, her friend-footman Sonya (of course, in glasses), oversized and always sweaty Vadik, balding family man Eugene — all as if from horror films of the eighties and nineties. Actors ideally fall into the types and perform impersonations in the best traditions of the genre. After all, all this is a buffoonery, a motley mix of American cliches and national color. With him, by the way, the "Call center" manages perfectly. The execution process is designed as a matinee in a kindergarten with all the characteristic attributes: competitions, lisping teachers and Soviet songs that sound more sinister than ever in the context of what is happening.
"Mom" and "Dad", represented by pixel dummies, turned out not to be as colorful as the famous Billy doll from "Saw", but the level holds. Especially "Mom" with her diminutive endearments — they sound both annoying and creepy. However, the disclosure of the essence of "Parental control" is frankly disappointing. It seems that the creators of the series either played too hard with the deconstruction of the genre, or just reached a dead end and came up with a solution at the last moment. But the second option is hard to believe — and besides, there is hope that the answers to many questions will appear in the second season.
Although there is a possibility that there is no double bottom in the series: the "Call center" often seems smarter than it really is. If you put aside all the flirtations with the genre and ancient cliches, which many viewers may simply not notice and do not appreciate, then there will be a regular Thriller, very similar to "Saw". Only the rides in it are not so inventive, there is little blood, and the actors are desperately overdone. In addition, a significant part of the plot revolves around a love triangle involving Kirill, his ex and boss. And if you don't have at least a basic liking for any of them — and there's a good chance that you will — then viewing them will become much more painful. Of course, you can root for other characters, but they don't have much screen time anymore. And some of them are generally pushed into the background immediately after flashbacks, like playing cards. Yes, and there are a lot of logical holes here: if not for the perfect combination of circumstances, the plan of the maniacs from "Parental control" could have gone to hell many times.
However, for all its shortcomings, "Call center" is an outstanding project by the standards of Russian TV series. And just a confident average by the standards of world streaming. In places, it can infuriate, but in General, it is excellent for entertaining. Moreover, during the quarantine period, it is best to look at the poor devils, whose isolation is much worse.