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Horror - When A Stranger Calls

BUY When A Stranger Calls (dvd cover)
Camilla Belle, Tommy Flanagan, Katie Cassidy
Directed by Simon West
Remake of the 1979 version with Carol Kane
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2006
87 minutes

If you want to enjoy When A Stranger Calls, the 2006 version of the Carol Kane / Charles Durning babysitting horror movie, skip the first 10 minutes or so or the part where the credits are rolling. The opening scenes of this movie, basically establishing the back story to When A Stranger Calls (a creepy guy calls a babysitter, there is a murder) are filmed with every single possible horror movie cliché thrown in including the neon Jesus Saves sign and replace tension with quick MTV video style cuts that are supposed to jar the viewer into the heebie-jeebies.

The rest of When A Stranger Calls is pretty decent horror movie fare, the kind you are glad you got the DVD instead of seeing it in the theatres. Cute teen Jill Johnson (played with more or less talent by Camilla Belle) is punished after exceeding her cell phone minutes by being sent to a rich couple's house to baby-sit. A stranger calls and creeps her out and you can guess the rest of the story: this is a horror movie.

Although director Simon West (Lara Croft: Tombraider, Con Air, The General's Daughter) cannot resist the standard black kitty the babysitter originally blames for scaring her, he does do a decent job with a basic scary movie plot. There are a few funny scenes here and there like when Jill tries out the many, many remotes on the coffee table to watch a little TV and then gives up and decides to study. The bit about a house where the rooms light up automatically thanks to a magic eye when you walk in is definitely cool. West knows the first thing any babysitter does is check out the lady of the house's dresser and closet and Jill Johnson is no exception.

The problem with When A Stranger Calls is that the title is the plot and there is not much you can really do with that although West does use the magic eye lights excellently. The final confrontation between Jill and the stranger is quite decent. This is not a brilliant horror movie but it is good fun, one of those why not choices

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