When a Stranger Calls (2006)
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Jake Wade Wall
Camilla Belle, Brian Geraghty, Tommy Flanagan, Tessa Thompson, Brian Geraghty, Clark Gregg, Derek De Lint, Kate Jennings Grant, David Denman, Madeline Carroll, Steve Eastin, Karina Logue, Katie Cassidy, Arthur Young, John Bobek, Brad Surosky
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|Movie Review by Tony |
May 25th, 2006
Every year for the past 3 years, and now 4, I recommend a horror film that really gets people wondering just what the hell was I thinking. I get e-mails asking if I am drunk, or taking drugs. The answer to both is NO. In 2003, it was TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. In 2004, it was SAW. In 2005, it was HOUSE OF WAX. Now in 2006, I recommend the remake of WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, with the new scream queen Camilla Belle. She is the new horror hottie and yes that's horror hottie. She joins the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Shawnee Smith, Elisha Cuthbert, Jennifer Love Hewit, and Jessica Biel.
In today's horror genre people rate films by how gruesome the kills are, how many bodies are slayed, and how much blood is shed. The more of all the above, the more likely people are to enjoy it. WHEN A STRANGER CALLS has little to no gore, so if that is what you are watching this film for, then I say this film is not for you. But if you are looking for a talented lead scream queen, a great scary house that is big and full of possibilities, and some realistic violence, and a fun little ride, then WHEN A STRANGER CALLS is the film for you. It was for me.
In case you have yet to see the original, I'll tell you the basic premise of WHEN A STRANGER CALLS. Which I believe is somewhat different from the original. Camille Belle stars as Jill Johnson, who has spent a little too much time on her cell phone chatting up with her sleazy boyfriend who cheated on her with Tiffany (Katie Cassidy.) Why anyone would cheat on Camilla Belle is a mystery, but I'll save that for another blog. In order to pay off this hefty sum of cash she ringed up with going over her minutes, she must babysit to pay it off.
She babysits for a rich doctor who has a lavish home. I mean this house is big. The kids are already asleep, the fridge is stocked with food, and all appears to be well on the western front. But it's never that easy now, is it? Suddenly, Jill gets strange phone calls with a person hanging up on her, or just sitting there in silence. She is unsure if it's a prank, or if there is something going on that she has no idea about. There is something not right about this house and the phone calls, but what? This is clearly not your ordinary babysitting job of cleaning up poop and feeding the children.
A big complaint about the film is anyone who has seen the trailer, or the original knows the infamous line of "The call is coming from inside the house." Now, I hear this line along with seeing the genuine fear and terror in Camille's eye and I can't take it. I lose it. Call me what you want, and all the names you want, but that is a scary sequence. I just can't handle it. People have complained that giving away this crucial plot line hurts the film, but I am able to overlook it, due to the delivery of the line along with Belle's convincing performance. Belle must have really channeled some dark place in her childhood, like her dolls being cut up or something, since she sold everything in this film as being scared out of her skull.
The last 20-25 minutes of the film are it's strongest and most terrifying. Also, it's most artistic and fun to watch. As director Simon West uses every bit of this large house to his advantage. From ports, to the closet, to alarm systems, to the rain outside, he creates a moody, terrifying, claustrophobic feeling that really got to me. Maybe because I am a fellow babysitter, but this is a realistic premise handled in a realistic way and sold realistically by Belle that gave me goosebumps. I don't scare easily either.
This is not a perfect film and a lot of people will be disappointed with it. But I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying WHEN A STRANGER CALLS. It's nice to see a scary movie that does not relie on blood and guts, but more things that could truly occur and fears all of us have. Camilla Belle carries this film as well with her unreal performance as she reaches levels and notes even I didn't think she had. Why are people going to see WHEN A STRANGER CALLS? To see Camilla Belle run around in her orange tank top in fear, and to be entertained for 87 minutes. All of which, this film did.
WHEN A STRANGER CALLS is a phone call I'm willing to pick up, even if it means paying for a collect phone call.
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