Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5  
When A Stranger Calls (2006)
15Contains strong menace, threat and violence

You know a horror movie's in trouble when the fake scares outweigh the real ones. Welcome to When A Stranger Calls, a tale of error loosely based on the 1979 film of the same name. Rising star Camilla Belle (The Ballad Of Jack And Rose) does her CV few favours as the babysitter at the mercy of an asthmatic phone pest in a remote high-tech house. There's a great deal of ringing and rasping, but if you're expecting anything creepier you've got the wrong number.

As remakes go, this is slightly more venturesome than most; the filmmakers have decided to expand the first reel or so of the original Stranger and ditch the rest. Great. But what they forgot to do is add enough thrills to fill 87 minutes. About half of that involves Jill (Belle) inching along long corridors, typically to find that the source of her unease is... an ice-maker. Chilling.


There's the promise of a cheap kick when marked-for-death classmate Katie Cassidy pops in, but her bloodlessly lame dispatch is emblematic of the film's timidity. Helmer Simon West (a long way from the heights of Con Air) tries to create some atmosphere by having Hurricane Katrina's kid sister raging outside the house. But the only vague frisson comes when Jill discovers that the babies she's meant to be sitting aren't in their beds. The moment's soon lost to a running-and-screaming climax capped by a why-bother coda. If you want to see this kind of thing done properly, dial up the first ten minutes of Scream instead.

End Credits

Director: Simon West

Writer: Jake Wade Wall

Stars: Camilla Belle, Brian Geraghty, Katie Cassidy, Clark Gregg

Genre: Horror

Length: 87 minutes

Cinema: 12 May 2006

Country: USA

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