When A Stranger Calls

 
Directed by: Simon West
Written by:Jake Wade Wall
Starring: Camilla Belle, Tommy Flanagan, Tessa Thompson, Brian Geraghty, Clark Gregg
Released: March 16, 2006
Grade: C+

A family has been murdered in brutal fashion.  It is horrific because there is no murder weapon.  What does that mean you ask?  I don’t know because we don’t find out.  All this goes on behind the opening credits which take forever to finish.  The film is only 87 minutes long and I sensed this introduction was included simply to make the film longer.  Without it, it would clock in shorter than Chicken Little.

The real film then begins and we and our feature character is Jill Johnson.  She’s been grounded by her parents and her car and mobile phone privileges have been taken from her for one month.  So whilst her school friends are partying at some bonfire, Jill finds herself on a babysitting assignment.  She was dropped there by her dad (hence no car) and the home’s owners won’t be back till after midnight.  Did I mention that the house is deep in the woods with no one for miles around?

Then, the phone calls start.  After a few red herrings (regular phone calls), Jill starts getting some creepy calls from a man who says very little.  He’s watching her from somewhere and Camilla starts freaking out.  Where is he and what is he planning?

When A Stranger Calls is a disappointing thriller that never lives up to its possibilities.  The film hasn’t received my full wrath because there were moments where I did feel suspense and wonder how it might end.  For a split second I thought the film could be redeemed with a slick finale.  This didn’t occur of course and I’m still scratching my head about the limp ending.  What was the point of the scene in the hospital?

Few legitimate questions are answered.  Why did this guy choose to stalk her?  How did he get the phone number?  How did he get in the house?  How did he get in the guest house?  How did kill her friend and get her upstairs?  How did the housekeeper get killed without a peep?  Why did she answer the phone in the first place considering it’s not her home?

The film is a remake of a 1979 film starring Charles Durning and Carol Kane.  There was even a TV sequel made in 1993 called When A Stranger Calls Back.  Well if this stranger calls back again, I won’t be answering!