When A Stranger Calls

When A Stranger Calls


Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

The recent phenomenon of remaking seminal horror movies from the Seventies continues, most notably with Zack Snyder's hugely entertaining Dawn Of The Dead (2004) and The Hills Have Eyes.

When A Stranger Calls is quite possibly the worst horror movie I have seen in 10 years. It makes me beg for a return to Amityville. It's not even mildly entertaining in the way House Of Wax drew from its source, blending with camp silliness.

Copy picture

Essentially, the film retells the opening act of its 1979 namesake, a 20-minute scene in the original, padded out to an agonising 87 here. Essentially, it's about an attractive babysitter Jill (Camilla Belle), being stalked by a mysterious phone-caller in an unlikely mansion. With a telephone receiver permanently clamped to her head, Jill attempts a feeble psychological word war with her Stranger (Tommy Flanagan, voice of Lance Henriksen), while wandering round the badly lit interior. The plot requires that we play the false strange noise game, follow dodgy leads, observe a fair bit of running and listen to infrequent screaming before the calls are traced and we finally reach the near unwatchable finale.

Without style, or storytelling skills, and sincerely lacking in diversity, while substituting screenwriting for multiple repeated cliches (Oh no.. the car won't start! Oh.. just the cat!) this is the worst kind of movie to review. I just can't summon the verbiage. Usually, even for flat-out bad 'uns, I have something cynical to say. Driven to the edge, where sentences silently suicide, this uneventful, thoughtless and infantile pap has beaten me.

Who finds this stuff scary any more?

If I was the distributor, I would release it in the still of the night, keep the critics away, throw a selective advertising campaign, cut it to get a 12A rating (the film isn't scary enough to frighten older teenagers) and take the first week's proceeds. With word of mouth, you can bet it won't last.

Or just hang up, and don't pay the bill.

Reviewed on: 15 May 2006
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When A Stranger Calls packshot
Babysitter is stalked by mysterious phone caller.
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Director: Simon West

Writer: Jake Wade Wall, based on the 1979 screenplay by Steve Feke and Fred Walton

Starring: Camilla Belle, Tommy Flanagan, Katie Cassidy, Tessa Thompson, Brian Geraghty, Clark Gregg, Derek de Lint, Kate Jennings Grant, Lance Henriksen

Year: 2006

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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