|“||Isn't it funny? You hear a phone ring, and it could be anybody. But a ringing phone has to be answered, doesn't it? ...Doesn't it?||„|
|~ The Caller|
The Caller is the main antagonist of the 2002 thriller film Phone Booth. He is an unnamed vigilante, killer and a top skilled sniper who is intent on manipulating Stuart "Stu" Shepard into becoming a better person by playing mind games and to cause him confess his wrongs.
Little is known about The Caller, not even his name. At one point, he claims to have been a Vietnam veteran, but says that he would have to be fifty in order for that to be the case. He also claims to have been a failed actor who does demeaning odd jobs just to get by, but then later says that was a lie also. He also claims to have had a "bad childhood", but then laughs and says that he was kidding, that he, in fact, had a very happy childhood. The Caller is a mysterious and elusive man who finds arrogant, corrupt or dishonest people and contacts them by phone, with the sole intention of making them tell the truth to the people they have wronged. One such person is a New York publicist named Stu Shepard (the protagonist of the film), who is seeing a woman named Pam behind his wife Kelly's back. After calling Pam at his usual phone booth on the street, the phone rings and Stu answers it. The Caller begins talking to Stu in a creepy manner, telling him not to exit the phone booth or else he will be shot with a sniper rifle. The Caller, already knowing Stu's name and all his details, calls Pam while Stu is listening in and tells her that Stu is not being honest with her. When she questions the stranger, he elaborates by telling her that Stu only ever calls her from a phone booth because his wife checks his mobile phone bills. The Caller then calls Kelly and informs her that Stu has something important to share with her, much to Stu's displeasure.
As Stu becomes increasingly uneasy, the Caller tells him that he had previously contacted other individuals who had been lying to others. One of these happened to be a pedophile and the other was a company insider who cashed out his stock options before the share price collapsed. The Caller had attempted to make them reveal the truth about themselves in a similar manner to Stu, but they both refused and were subsequently killed with the Caller's sniper rifle. Whilst talking, Stu is harassed by prostitutes who regularly use the phone booth. Knowing that he will die if he leaves the booth, Stu tells them to go away and makes them more and more frustrated. When their pimp, named Leon, asks Stu to leave the booth, Stu stubbornly refuses and Leon becomes aggressive. After smashing the booth's windows with a baseball bat and trying to drag Stu outside, the Caller tells Stu that it will count as a hang up. He then tells Stu that he can make Leon stop, then asks if Stu can hear him. When Stu says yes, the Caller thinks he is asking him to shoot Leon, which he does. Leon collapses dead and the prostitutes cry in panic, causing great alarm and making them believe Stu is the killer. The police arrive shortly afterwards and hold Stu at gunpoint, but begin to realise that Stu is either unable or simply unwilling to leave the booth. They ask Stu who he is speaking to on the phone, to which he replies his psychiatrist.Stu discovers that the Caller had planted a gun inside the booth to make him appear as the killer, and very soon both Pam and Kelly arrive. The Caller tells Stu to confess to Kelly, which he agrees to, but is then threatened to choose one of the two women. Whichever one Stu chooses, the other will be killed. Eventually, Stu reveals the truth and says that his life is a lie, as he wanted to seem more important than he actually is. He then tells the Caller that he is being tracked and that the police are about to capture him, but the Caller replies that if he is caught then he will kill Kelly. An enraged Stu then leaves the booth with the planted gun in his hand and screams at the Caller to kill him instead and spare Pam and Kelly. Stu is then shot and collapses. Meanwhile, the police force track the Caller to a room which they ambush, finding a dead man inside.
Later, Stu awakens to find that it had been the police who shot him, not the Caller, and only with rubber bullets. Stu is then shown the corpse of the Caller, and Stu identifies the man as a pizza delivery man who had been sent earlier to deliver a pizza to him at the phone booth. As Stu receives medical treatment, a man with a briefcase appears, and he compliments Stu's Italian shoes with a voice that sounds all too similar. The man tells Stu that he regretted having to kill the pizza delivery man, claiming he felt "bad" about it; revealing that he is the actual Caller. He begins to tease Stu, telling him that, because he hung up, he didn't get a chance to say goodbye. As Stu looks on in astonishment, the Caller tells him that if his newfound honesty does not last, he will contact him again. The Caller then departs into the nearby crowd, and Stu is unable to call out due to the medication he has just been given. Stu falls unconscious seconds later. The Caller glances at the destroyed phone booth as he passes by.
Skills and Personality
The Caller's skills are numerous: he is well-prepared, relentlessly intimidating, careful, independently wealthy, manipulative, articulate, charismatic and patient. His choices of technology are well-suited and his choice of a target proves to be both worthy and entertaining. The Caller also possesses an apparent genius-level intellect, which allows him to stay one step ahead of law enforcement at all times. In essence, The Caller is much like a conscience or a voice of reason, but in this case, it's the aggressive militant kind. In another way, he's sort of like God, calling down from the heavens and demanding repentance. Nonetheless, despite his intense moral convictions, The Caller is still a ruthless psychopath. He is shown to be a stalker, having even followed Pam into a restaurant at one point just to see what she was like. He was also prepared to kill both Pam and Kelly, despite liking both women and deeming them good people; simply because of their association to Stu Shepard. The Caller also killed a pizza delivery man with similar moral convictions to his own only so he could have a decoy for the police to follow so he could make his escape. The Caller said he "felt bad" about killing the pizza guy, but he didn't seem too upset about it. The Caller claimed that the pizza guy was to give Stu some food to keep his strength up, but The Caller knew that Stu would refuse the pizza. Stu even told the pizza man to "return [the pizza] to sender", so while Stu was calling Pam, the pizza man returned the pizza to the person who placed the order, The Caller. This address was the hotel room where he had his decoy sniper set up. The Caller than took the man captive while the events of the film unfolded. The Caller did mention not hearing any police, so it is entirely plausible that he slit the man's throat several minutes before the police even traced his location or slit his throat, grabbed his rifle and fled right as the police arrived. Knowing The Caller's intellect, the former is more likely, since he wouldn't want to risk getting caught or not make sure the man was dead. It's even implied that The Caller had plenty of time to escape without killing the pizza man, but had to in order to "see [Stu] and Kelly reunited". With the pizza man's body distracting the police, this allowed The Caller that chance. Also, having Stu interact with the pizza man prior to the ordeal would allow him to identify the body and quickly close the case. The Caller only revealed his true identity to Stu after he was given a dose of morphine and soon after passed out, so when Stu woke up, he would not recall what The Caller actually looked like, and his claims that The Caller was still out there would be met with skepticism as hallucinations caused by the morphine. The Caller also touched Stu's shoes and complimented them, but was careful to only do so with a cloth, so as to not leave his fingerprints. He then cleaned his glasses with it.
- "At least now you'll die with a clean conscience."
- "Stu, if you hang up, I will kill you.
- "Get this man a seat on Oprah."
- "That's it, the captain gets a bullet.
- "Stand up and be a man!"
- "TV seems to bring out the worst in people.
- (after cocking the bolt on his rifle) “Now doesn't that just torque your jaws? I love that. You know like in the movies just as the good guy is about to kill the bad guy, he cocks his gun. Now why didn't he have it cocked? Because that sound is scary. It's cool, isn't it?”
- "If this is true Stuart, then I have to take somebody with me don't I? And since Kelly is the most important thing in your life, I'll take her.”
- "But beautiful women always know. That false indifference, superior air. It's just a tease. They want eyes on them. Why does she put on her make up? Do her hair? Dress so nicely? Not for her husband which she hardly ever sees, no, it's for somebody else to notice... I notice.”
- "Wait till it goes national. ABC, CBS, CNN, UPN, you're gonna have the whole alphabet.”
- "You are guilty of inhumanity to your fellow man.”
- "Stu, don't do this. Please, come on. My sainted mother used to do this. She used to dish this out... Stu, please don't do this. Stu, you're bringing back my unhappy childhood. Stu, talk to me, please! Talk to me! I can't take it, Stu... Ahh! I'm kidding. I had a very happy childhood.”
- "Nice shoes. Italian. You hung up, Stu. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. I feel bad about the pizza guy, but I couldn't miss seeing you and Kelly reunited. You don't have to thank me; nobody ever does. I just hope your newfound honesty lasts. Because if it doesn't, you'll be hearing from me.”
- The Caller's exact rifle of choice is unknown, as it is never actually seen. When the police enter the hotel room, an Accuracy International Arctic Warfare sniper rifle with a suppressor is seen, but this rifle is not the rifle that shot Leon or Stu, as The Caller says he uses a different gun. This means that The Caller had a several thousand dollar rifle planted as a mere decoy, suggesting that he is independently wealthy. Reloading supplies are also seen in the hotel room, suggesting that The Caller loads his own ammunition. The Caller also had a Smith & Wesson SIGMA 380 planted in the phone booth light panel, bugged the booth and had an encryption device installed on the line, further cementing this theory. The Caller mentions that he is using a .30 caliber bolt action 700 with a "Carbon 1 modification", which likely means that his rifle is a Remington 700 chambered in .30-06 Springfield. The rifle also has a silencer attached. The "Carbon 1 modification" is likely a Christensen Arms Carbon One Custom action based off of the Remington 700 design. At the end of the film, The Caller is seen walking by the phone booth with a large rifle hard case that appears to be a Storm or Pelican, which is too short to accommodate such a long rifle, but it could entirely be equipped with a custom AICS 2.0 folding stock. Whatever The Caller does use, it is apparent that he has heavily customized it. The Caller also apparently has a laser sight mounted on the weapon, but it is entirely possible that The Caller simply used a powerful laser pointer for effect.
- The Caller is unlike most movie villains, who are seen earlier in the film or are somehow related to the protagonist. The Caller is simply a random person who is fed up with fake, arrogant people. He had never met Stu Shepard or the other people he chose for his executions prior to them. Even his appearance is surprisingly ordinary, an older, meek man with slicked back hair, glasses and cream colored clothing.
- The Caller's real name is never identified.
- The Caller was listed at number 5 on WatchMojo's "Top 10 Snipers" video.
- The Caller has killed at least four people (the CEO, the German Porn King, Leon the Pimp and the Pizza Guy), however, at the end of the film, another person can be heard picking up another ringing phone, suggesting that The Caller is still out there and continuing his work.
- The Caller has been compared to Jigsaw or John Doe in that he genuinely wants to help people and make the world a better place, but his methods are cruel and he seems to get a sadistic pleasure from tormenting his victims.
- The Caller is highly similar to Helmut Zemo from MCU:
- Both of them are Master Manipulators.
- Both Zemo and The Caller wanted to change the world by manipulating the protagonists.
- The Caller is having some similarties with The Joker from Batman:
- Both of them are professional masterminds who enjoy from playing mind games and manipulating the protagonists; Batman and Stu.
- Both the Joker and The Caller aren't known by their past.
- Both the Joker and the Caller are having nearly same aliases.
- Both of them are terroizing everyone.