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Overall Rating

Awesome: 3.53%
Worth A Look: 4.71%
Average: 17.65%
Pretty Bad: 24.71%
Total Crap49.41%

9 reviews, 31 user ratings

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When a Stranger Calls (2006)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jack Sommersby

"Another Needless, Crappy Remake"
1 stars

In a way, these pathetic remakes are positive only in that they propel people to check out the originals, most of which are indeed superior.

The 1979 original When a Stranger Calls (see review) dealt with a babysitter harassed by an unknown phone caller who taunted her with the questions "Have you checked the children lately?" and "Why haven't you checked the children?". The police were initially unable to intervene because the calls weren't of a threatening nature, which led to a heart-stopping twist that floored you, even if it was a blatant crib from Black Christmas; and this was all in the opening twenty minutes. The remake expands this opening segment into an eighty-seven-minute running time, with more than a few changes applied to it, and none of them for the better. The material is so thin and needlessly protracted it's as if you're watching a drastically extended television commercial, and like a commercial it looks good and is paced quickly enough but nothing of aesthetic consequence comes of it. In the original, Carol Kane played the heroine, presenting us with an emotionally-raw, believable three-dimensional human being, so we were caught up in her emotional plight and right there with her during her trials and tribulations; here, an actress of true plasticity, Camilla Belle, plays the part, and we remain distanced from her more often than not. She doesn't use her body expressively, her lines are spoken without power of inflection or of phrase, and when she's supposed to be scared she looks no more bothered than if she'd lost her hairbrush. The filmmakers have tried employing an architecturally beautiful house as the main setting to help hold our attention, to get us through the drawn-out periods where nothing of actual consequence is actually happening, and it's a most desperate facade (as it similarly was in the equally-ridiculous thriller The Glass House, which also had a weak actress in the lead role). And Simon West's uncommunicative direction doesn't help. West, who did Con-Air and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, is at heart a big-budget action helmer, and his fondness for installing built-in climaxes for each and every one of his scenes doesn't mesh well with a horror tale that, for it to work, needs to elicit, build and sustain the tension tactfully. There's nary an iota of that anywhere to be found, as if the film were existing in some kind of fugue state, where more in the way of inertia, rather than propulsion, were at the center of things; and when West is tired of trying to generate scares he takes the easy way out by throwing in an array of generic action sequences that are unremarkably staged and throw us out of the stalled narrative even further -- a classic example of an artist at considerable cross-purposes with the material. All in all, it's a film that's well-dressed but has neither the brains nor the body to even remotely entice us over to its side; another needless remake not only incapable of presenting anything fresh but not even replicating the bare rudiments that made things work the first time around. Rent the original instead. Please.

Why still make a film with a story premise that's already been parodied out the kazoo?

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 06/15/06 04:52:37
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Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

2/21/17 morris campbell some scares otherwise same old same old 3 stars
3/23/16 David H. Pointless, predictable, and overdone 1 stars
1/12/15 Jay Five stars for the exquisite Camilla Belle, an underappreciated and rare gem. 5 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
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  03-Feb-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-May-2006



Directed by
  Simon West

Written by
  Jake Wade Wall

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

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