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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 U.J. Lessing

"The film you are trying to see has been disconnected. Try again later."
2 stars

Throughout “When a Stranger Calls,” a black cat relentlessly jumps out of the shadows and creates a considerable number of false scares for the heroine. I’ve always wondered about the credibility of this over-used horror device: I have two cats and neither of them have ever leaped out and frightened me. Granted my younger cat once clawed my groin in the dead of night, but that was more excruciating than terrifying. Perhaps if there was a homicidal maniac in the house, sweet Puck and playful Max’s passive aggressive tendencies would reach an apex, and they would do everything in their black feline hearts to sabotage my panicked departure. I don’t put it past them.

As you may have already figured out, “When a Stranger Calls” contains standard, time-tested ingredients from the horror movie food pyramid. There’s a large spooky house complete with grotesque artwork, a pretty high-school heroine in distress who knows how to get out of a scrape, a silent killer who shows no emotion as he goes about his gruesome business, and of course, underdeveloped characters that might as well have the moniker “Future Corpse” tattooed on their heads.

An unremarkable rip-off of “Halloween” isn’t the best source material, but director Simon West’s (“Laura Croft, Tomb Raider”) remake takes it about as far as it can go.

It’s not very far.

“When a Stranger Calls” introduces us to a babysitter (Camilla Belle) employed to care for two kids in a rich doctor’s home. Both children are asleep, she can’t figure out how the television works, and all she has for company is her own imagination.

Expectedly, she begins to receive a series of creepy telephone calls. Sometimes the person on the line just breathes, and other times he asks her about the status of the children. A rather effective prologue establishes that the killer is particularly sadistic, uses no weapons, and that his last victim was extricated from her room in multiple body bags.

The very talented Belle plays the film’s victim, Jill. Our perspective never leaves her, and Belle, apart from the prologue and some clichéd exteriors, is in every shot. She carries the film. A daunting task for even a seasoned actor, this is simply too difficult for Belle. Her performance starts out nuanced and smart, but quickly deteriorates into repetition and crocodile tears.

The film is not aimed at old-hand horror movie fans and instead rests its sights on a PG-13 rating and younger viewers. The film may be persistent, but it is not very intense. Some people are killed, but their deaths are bloodless events that occur off camera. Like many horror films before, one character meets her demise due to her promiscuity and alcoholism. However, unlike her ‘R’ rated counterparts, all she does is kiss the heroine’s boyfriend and look briefly for some liquor.

The result is watered-down horror that’s not particularly creepy. The relationships are shallow, and the dialogue is about as well written as a crumpled note crammed into a trapper-keeper. “When a Stranger Calls” is basically a poorly written episode of “The Babysitter’s Club,” but with a body count.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 02/07/06 05:49:07
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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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