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Overall Rating
1.88

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)
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by William Goss

"When A Stranger Bores"
2 stars

Let’s crunch some digits, shall we? If a thriller runs roughly 80 minutes without credits, and only about fifteen of those minutes are mildly suspenseful, then this leaves us with a rather poor ratio of frights to frames. Such is the case with the remake of 'When A Stranger Calls,' a thriller with barely any thrills, which is an equation that never really adds up.

Jill (Camilla Belle, The Chumscrubber) is grounded for running up her cell phone bill by about 800 minutes, so she must pay back her parents with a string of babysitting gigs, all the while sans phone or vehicle (!). Her latest job is for a family whose upscale lakeside estate is immensely secluded (!!), leaving the police at least twenty minutes away (!!!). The exposition continues to…continue, as Jill receives the occasional vague threat from an anonymous caller, meanders throughout the three-story home, and is assaulted by the world’s loudest birds/icemaker/black cat/etc.

For the initial hour, boredom looms as everyone waits two beats before answering the phone and motion-activated lighting provides a lazy attempt at something resembling tension. Only after a drawn-out hour of exposition does the titular baddie appear to chase around his rather patient victim (whose first appearance is – wait for it – at track practice) and the children she rarely checked on. Until then, the ever-attractive Belle just wanders around, speaking aloud to herself or a phone with an increasingly grating whine, just waiting for her chance to scream and/or shout.

With barely any other character interaction taking place, props must be given to Lance Henriksen, who literally phones in his performance as the menacing voice of the stranger. His physical counterpart, played by Tommy Flanagan, is a faceless villain, with little more to do than provide a presence from which Jill and the kids flee. Barely any impression is left from the occasional supporting cast, most of which appear in the beginning and then vanish until director Simon West (Con Air, the first Tomb Raider) and screenwriter Jake Wade Wall deem them convenient.

If one were to lop off the equally useless prologue and epilogue, as well as just about any one reel in between, they would have a taut TV movie buried in the 83-minute running time of this assembly of false scares, red herrings, and rampant clichés. (The inclusion of commercials could shave off even more time.) However, the current feature-length incarnation of 'When A Stranger Calls' is nothing but strictly by the numbers.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13780&reviewer=409
originally posted: 02/12/06 21:20:09
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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
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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