When a Stranger Calls (2006) [REVIEW]

 

Yes, I do own this movie on DVD. Why? Well I’ll fucking tell you if you can wait a goddamned second. The first time I saw this movie was when I was working at a movie theater and I had 90 minutes to kill. I was a projectionist and couldn’t just leave the booth, so I watched this movie in 10 minute increments, knowing that I couldn’t be missing all that much of the plot. Once this movie was released on DVD, I was killing some time in Best Buy before going in to that same job. At this point, I was bringing my laptop and watching movies on DVD, so that way I could pause movies and turn on the closed captioning since it’s loud as shit up there. Seeing that this movie was only five dollars, I figured there were worse ways top spend five dollars. Cut to this past weekend when I went to see Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. The movie theater wanted to show “vintage” trailers, and they decided to show the trailer to this movie for no other reason than it was probably just lying around. It reminded me that I owned it so I decided to give it another shot and see if there was anything at all worth remembering about this movie.

 

Rampaige pointed out that Camilla Belle has her mouth open in almost every single shot. Not saying this is a bad thing, just an observation.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before (which you have, especially because this movie is a remake): a high school girl, played by Camilla Belle, is going to babysit for some people that she hasn’t ever babysat for. While there, she starts getting prank phone calls, varying from no one responding, to heavy breathing, to verbal harassment. The babysitter starts getting worried, as she’s alone with the kids somewhere she’s never been, so she decides to call the police and tells them about the calls. They somehow have the power to trace the phone call as she waits to see if this person contacts her again. When that person does, they give clues that make the babysitter think this person can see her, and the cops call back immediately to let the babysitter know that the calls are coming from INSIDE the house. While trying to get the kids out of the house, she is confronted by the mysterious caller. There’s a little bit of cat-and-mouse being played in the house until eventually the babysitter and kids get out, and the caller gets apprehended by the police.

 

That wet t-shirt certainly is sexy enough to draw young boys into the theater, but is innocent enough that you can pretend you aren’t fulfilling the “babysitter from high school home alone” erotic fantasy!

One of the oldest urban legends/scary stories in the book, so how do you put any sort of original or creative spin on things? One suggestion would be don’t give away the fucking ending in the trailer. They don’t tell you until more than halfway through the film that the killer is in the house, and I’m sure most people would have guessed it, but couldn’t you have at least delayed that “surprise” until people had bought their tickets? Despite already knowing exactly what’s going to happen, this movie did hold my attention. The first thing that was enjoyable was that in this “updated” version of the story, the house is technologically advanced, meaning that when you walk in or out of a room, the lights automatically turn on or off. There was a garden with live birds in it that resulted in the lights sometimes going on and off. This caused a few “tense” moments that were variations on just having to slowly open a door to see if there’s anything behind it. I think another thing that could be considered “enjoyable” was Camilla Belle’s performance. Rampaige’s only comment was that her and the other actresses actually looked and acted like high school girls. In addition to acting like actual teenagers, I also never really thought that the babysitter was an idiot in her reaction to the situation. The concept would make it too simple to have the main character continuously making stupid decisions which would result in putting herself in harm’s way, but things like double-checking the locks and alarms and constantly calling the homeowners made you realize this girl wasn’t an idiot. The opening also established that she was some sort of runner, so when you saw her doing physically strenuous activities, like escaping a killer, she didn’t seem like super woman. I did find it weird that she didn’t check on the kids to even see if they existed for the first part of the movie, and always kind of hoped they had capitalized on the kids being involved somehow. Maybe some other weird or creepy thing about the kids could have pushed this remake further. Other than those two things I already mentioned, there’s really no reason to watch this movie and should instead buy the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books.

 

Wolfman Moon Scale


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