Today’s flick is a mostly forgotten 2002 thriller that takes its name from an item that is now a technological relic: Beeper.
The writers for Beeper were Gregory Gieras, who has since written the monster movies Big Ass Spider and Centipede, and Michael Cordell, who has no other listed credits on IMDb.
The director for Beeper was Jack Sholder, who also directed such films as Arachnid, Wishmaster 2, Renegades, The Hidden, and A Nightmare On Elm Street 2.
The cinematographer for Beeper was Ajayan Vincent, who also shot Centipede, which was written and directed by Beeper co-writer Gregory Gieras.
Beeper‘s primary editor was Andy Horvitch, who also cut the Stuart Gordon movies Edmond, Stuck, The Pit and The Pendulum, and The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, as well as flicks like Arena, American Ninja, Demonic Toys, and Trancers II.
The visual effects team for Beeper included Jim Stewart (Troll, Chopping Mall, School Spirit, Dr. Alien, The Dentist 2, King of the Ants), Brady Hallongren (Scorcher), Sean Hewitt (Alien Hunter, Poolhall Junkies), and Rita Schrag (The Dentist 2, Soccer Dog, King of the Ants).
The musical score for Beeper was composed by J. Peter Robinson, who has also provided music for such movies as Detroit Rock City, Vampire In Brooklyn, New Nightmare, The Wizard, and Blind Fury.
The cast of Beeper is headlined by Harvey Keitel (Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Bad Lieutenant), Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy), Ed Quinn (Starship Troopers 2, House of the Dead 2), and Gulshan Grover (Hera Pheri, I Am Kalam).
The plot of Beeper centers around the kidnapping of a prestigious doctor’s son while he is traveling in India. He is then given instructions by the child’s captors via an electronic pager, and has to to figure out a way to get his son back from the criminal organization that his holding him hostage.
Beeper was filmed in the city of Hyderabad in India, which features a good deal of photogenic architecture, which can be seen in the background of many shots.
The film was produced by a company called Shoreline Entertainment, which specializes in the production and distribution of b-movies like Ninja Cheerleaders, Parasite, and Voodoo Lagoon, just to name a few.
The reception for Beeper, at least from what I could find, was pretty negative: the film currently holds a 4.4 on IMDb, along with a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 17%.
First off, the lead character (played by Ed Quinn) in Beeper looks and sounds just enough like Christian Bale from American Psycho that throughout the movie I kept expecting him to eventually snap and start murdering people with an axe or a chainsaw. I think this is due to some mixture of his wardrobe, his hair style, and the cadence of his voice, but it was pretty amusingly distracting for me during less exciting moments of the film regardless.
The production was able to scout out some really inspiring locations for the movie, given the historic architecture throughout Hyderabad. I’m a little surprised more western productions don’t use Indian locations more often, given their impressive visuals and the fact that the country has a significant existing film infrastructure available.
As I kind of suspected, Harvey Keitel isn’t a major player in this movie, despite being highly billed on most of the promotional materials I have seen. He is far and away the biggest and most expensive name in the movie, and I imagine the production kept the amount of time they needed him on set to a minimum for financial reasons.
In general, the beeper itself provides a pretty interesting plot device to move things forward wile maintaining a sense of mystery and vagueness in the riddles and messages. While the plot mostly amounts to a high stakes scavenger hunt, there are certainly worse gimmicks out there.
Overall, Beeper isn’t awful as far as low-budget thrillers go, but it also isn’t particularly outstanding in any way. As much as there were a few things I liked about it, I mostly didn’t have strong feelings about the movie one way or another. I do wish Keitel got to shine a bit more, though I can certainly understand why he was in a limited role. He also was clearly phoning in his performance, as he has with many over the past few years.