Director: Simon West | 87 minutes | horror, thriller | Actors: Camilla Belle, Tommy Flanagan, Katie Cassidy, Tessa Thompson, Brian Geraghty, Clark Gregg, Derek de Lint, Kate Jennings Grant, David Denman, Arthur Young, Madeline Carroll, Steve Eastin, John Bobek, Brad Surosky, Karina Logue
And again a remake of a 70’s thriller. The source of inspiration in Hollywood may have dried up here and there because in recent years one old nail-biter after another has been recreated, think of “The Omen”, “The Amityville Horror” or even two completely unnecessary prequels to “The Exorcist”. In almost all cases the original is better and yes, why would you actually remake a successful movie? It doesn’t get any better than the original, probably the makers want to tap into “a new and younger audience”, as it is so beautifully called, but it is just a cheap, risk-free way to make money. Artistry is really hard to find these days.
Well, “When a Stranger Calls” is also a very mediocre remake and therefore completely unnecessary. The story is very simple: Jill, a schoolboy, is going to babysit for an evening in a huge, of course very remote villa. She is harassed by a man who calls her all the time and then acts rather scary. Jill gets scared and calls the local hermandad, but they can do nothing as long as she is not really threatened, but are still so nice to track the call. Then it turns out that the caller is in the house! Fear everywhere, of course, and Jill’s life and that of the children is now really in danger.
The film opens with a scene in which a house can be seen and can be heard a telephone conversation with a guy and apparently the babysitter in that house. It is a short conversation, but it is clear that the caller is not up to much. Just think of the opening scene of “Scream” and you know what is meant. It is dark, the wind is howling and near the house you can see a fairground with a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, etc. What is it about thrillers and fairs? Murders and other disgusting things always happen in the vicinity of a fair. Logically, this is done to create a big contrast. On the one hand, a fair is an innocent place that serves for entertainment and to make the children laugh. On the other hand, there is the cold-blooded murderer who slaughters entire families. Nice idea, but now done so often that it is no longer original at all.
In this house, in the opening scene, an entire family is slaughtered and then the story really starts so that you as the viewer know that we are dealing with a dangerous subject. Of course, Jill doesn’t know this and isn’t afraid at first, until some strange things happen and her fear increases. Unfortunately, like every actor / actress in horror films, she makes illogical choices, which is highly annoying. In this case, a girlfriend unexpectedly drops by at some point. Jill Bonjourt hurried her out the door without mercy, while five minutes earlier she was still trembling with fear with a poker in her hand because she thought she heard something. In addition, the caller has also quite upset her. In such a case, you want someone to be with you, but not Jill, who prefers to sit alone on the sofa while the wind is howling around the house.
“When a Stranger Calls” starts off exciting, but gradually irritates more and more. Not only because of Jill’s choices that can be questioned, but also because of the particularly bad acting of the actress who portrays her, Camilla Belle. It seems as if she really only has one facial expression. There are a number of real scares, but these are of course at rather predictable moments, which is quite disturbing. And once Jill is confronted with the caller, the movie is also suddenly over very quickly, leaving you with an unsatisfactory feeling. Not too good, this remake. The original wasn’t very good either, but at least a lot better and more exciting than this adolescent vehicle that never gets really interesting.