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Overall Rating
1.84

Awesome: 2.44%
Worth A Look: 4.88%
Average: 17.07%
Pretty Bad: 25.61%
Total Crap50%

9 reviews, 28 user ratings


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When a Stranger Calls (2006)
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by Scott Weinberg

"About as scary as an 83-minute cell-phone commercial."
1 stars

Not so much a remake of 1979's "When a Stranger Calls" as it is a remake of the first 20 minutes of 1979's "When a Stranger Calls," 2006's "When a Stranger Calls" is simply and succinctly one of the most inept, inert, and resoundingly unwatchable "horror" movies of the past few years. And keep in mind that the past few years have included remakes like "The Fog," "House of Wax," and "The Amityville Horror." And a dozen more you're now embarrassed to admit you paid to see.

"A girl wanders around a house, stopping only occasionally to answer a phone. Usually the call is coming from someone creepy."

There's your first 50-some minutes of When a Stranger Calls, and if you think I'm kidding, be sure to rent the thing one day and be sure to stay away from heavy machinery. This flick is the Nyquil of the PG-13 horror genre.

Jill's a babysitter in a bizarrely huge and arcanely contorted neo-mansion, and she's a girl who gets a whole lot of phone calls. After fielding call after call from a clearly deranged individual, she begins to realize that her harasser has easy access to the house. The amazingly clueless cops offer no assistance whatsoever, while a variety of blink & you miss 'em background characters populate the periphery and add absolutely nothing to the flick besides running time.

Hallway wander, ring, hallway wander, ring, and on and on it goes. Fake scares and shrieking strains of musical score occasionally punctuate the tedium, but those moments exist only to wake you up and annoy you. Pay close attention to the movie and you'll find yourself perpetually reminded of the Scream and Scary Movie series -- mainly because those flicks tweaked, satirized, and lampooned this one-note junk out of existence. (Or at least we thought it did...)

Strangely, nobody over at Sony Screen Gems bothered to remind director Simon West and screenwriter Jake Wade Wall that in order to stretch a 20-minute sequence into feature-length form -- you need to do a whole lot more than amp up the hallway wanderings and dole out a few "omg it was the CAT" pseudo-jolts.

Stylistically stillborn, narratively retarded, and intent on beating its one and only concept into the dirt with merciless monotony, When a Stranger Calls is a perfect example of why so many horror remakes get made these days: All you need is a semi-familiar title and enough of a "hook" to fit into a 2-minute trailer, and you're all but guaranteed a huge opening weekend from the 15-year-olds who, frankly, will go see any damn movie if it means they can hang out with their friends for a few hours.

This thing is a movie like static is a song.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13780&reviewer=128
originally posted: 02/05/06 20:11:18
[printer] printer-friendly format  
Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

9/24/08 PAUL SHORTT THERE'S LITTLE OF ORIGINALITY OR NOVEL INVENTION HERE, & CERTAINLY NOTHING OF ESSENTIALITY 1 stars
10/18/07 Beau It had a freaky vibe to it, i like Camilla belle! it was suspensful! good thriller 4 stars
3/11/07 Bee You can't call it a thriller just because you have creepy music and cat jokes/ 3 stars
2/16/07 Axel Leos Stupid careless babysitter that lets a stranger inside the house intentionally 1 stars
1/13/07 David Pollastrini I liked it better than the original 4 stars
11/10/06 American Slasher Goddess Another crappy, bland remake. 1 stars
10/30/06 Roger Wilks It could have been better, but overall it was a pretty good thriller. 4 stars
10/03/06 Kaylin I actually found this thrilling and freaky. 4 stars
9/30/06 Stanley Thai VERY suspenseful. I'm not being genrous. This thriller doesn't rely on violence and gore. 3 stars
7/28/06 Indrid Cold Maybe I'm off base, but I actually found it moderately thrilling. 3 stars
6/18/06 Danny Not EVEN suspensful. Stupid and boring. 1 stars
6/05/06 misty Great movie. 5 stars
5/29/06 Chad Anderson SUCKS ASS!!!!!! 1 stars
5/17/06 Paddy I felt like i'd had 87 minutes of my life stolen - AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE! 1 stars
4/06/06 Anthony Feor Another terrible remake 2 stars
4/01/06 Jasmine A Terrific Movie! 5 stars
3/30/06 CeCe Okay,But it coulda been a lot better 3 stars
3/09/06 Dk A weak thriller that was pathetic from start to finish 1 stars
2/23/06 janyce taylor it had a slow beginning and it really led up to nothing. 2 stars
2/15/06 Hi MOM! I havent even seen it and its total crap! 1 stars
2/13/06 Quigley when I was laughing my head off through the "intense" scenes, I knew this was good comdey 1 stars
2/13/06 yomomma not as bad as paint drying but not as good either 3 stars
2/09/06 Keith Traynor One word: total crap 1 stars
2/07/06 karla glisson wasnt bad,but could have been better 3 stars
2/07/06 Sean D THE WORST MOVIE THAT I'VE EVER SEEN!!! 1 stars
2/06/06 Anthony Feor Not good and not bad, but too predictible 3 stars
2/05/06 Evil Wolfie Too much build up not enough pay off 2 stars
2/04/06 Anthony Feor On of the most predictible movies of a lifetime, but not total crap 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  03-Feb-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-May-2006

UK
  12-May-2006

Australia
  16-Mar-2006


Directed by
  Simon West

Written by
  Jake Wade Wall

Cast
  Camilla Belle
  Brian Geraghty
  John Bobek
  Molly Bryant
  Madeline Carroll
  Katie Cassidy



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