When A Stranger Calls review
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[When A Stranger Calls]
Plot:Remake of the classic horror film where a babysitter finds herself terrorized by a slew of eerie phone calls from a stranger.
Kate Jennings Grant,
Derek de Lint,
My Thoughts:Great remake
Review:As much as I am not a fan of Hollywood remaking old horror movies, it's nice for once to be able to have good things to say about atleast one of them. "When A Stranger Calls" is a remake of the 1979 horror movie that starred Carol Kane as a babysitter who during her tenor watching over the kids, kept recieving a slew of terrifyingly eerie phone calls from a mystery man. This updated version stars Camilla Belle as the constantly harassed girl. In this movie, Camilla is no Carol Kane, but she sure as hell holds her own as Jill Johnson who takes a babysitting gig at the mansionesque home of Dr. and Mrs. Mandrakis. Now if you're wondering why a teenage girl in this day and age would want to take a babysitting gig, well it seems Jill went over her cellphone minutes by 800 minutes! So her parents wanting to teach her a lesson in responsibility, hook her up with a babysitting gig to pay off the debt she owes them. Which sucks for Jill since shes having boyfriend issues and would much rather be attending a bonfire party with her friends instead.There are alot of things that set this version apart from the original such as the film starting off with a murder. But what stands out the most is the house. In the original 1979 version of "When a Stranger Calls", Carol Kane watched over the kids in a nice usual suburban home. But in this film, Camilla Belle is watching over the Mandrakis children in a huge residence. Were talking something you'd be accustomed to seeing on "MTV Cribs", which sits off to itself in what looks to be the middle of nowhere. This adds a real sense of tension and suspense to the movie because the house has so many rooms, subrooms, a bird sanctuary, a guest house, and the outside of the house is surrounded by a huge jungle like setting with plants and trees all around the house. The house is also very dark because the lighting system works on an entry system. For example, when Jill is trapsing around certain parts of the home, the lights automatically come on in the rooms shes present in. When she exits those rooms, the lights automatically shut off. This was a really good idea on the part of the filmmakers because the home being dark for most of the film with the exception of a few lights, really set the perfect mood and tone for the film. I also liked how they coupled all of that with a raging thunderstorm going on outside. It isn't long after arriving before Jill starts recieving weird phone calls from our mystery man but in this film he doesn't recite that famous line "Have you checked the children?" over and over again. Simon West makes sure to build up tension by giving the audience alot of scares, suspense, and creepy scenes before the big finale where the stranger finally reveals himself. Along with the use of the breathtaking scenery of the house, and various nighttime scenes, he also uses the stranger very well in the movie...having the phone calls start off with a slightly eerie tone to them, and further escalating into terrifying mode as the movie goes on. It also helps that most of the film is spent with Jill, the house, and the stranger. This movie doesn't shift back and forth and when other characters are brought to the forefront such as when Jill's friend comes to visit, the film still manages to keep the basic happenings in or around the Mandrakis residence...with the exception of about 2 or three quick scenes where Jill phones her friend Scarlet and her boyfriend Bobby. Usually most movies which stay in one place don't take long to turn boring but Simon Wests combination of great camera angles and capturing the fear of being alone in a large place during a storm, coupled with a solid script by Jake Wade Wall keep this movie from hardly ever turning in a dull moment. The final act of the movie also delivers, as Jill is finally confronted by the stranger and has to manage to keep herself and the children alive during the very tense last 25 minutes or so of the film. "When A Stranger Calls" is a superb film that takes alot from it's predecessor, and blends it with a hip new age style to create a perfect hybrid of old school scares, and tremendous suspense. You mix that with the surprisingly good performance of the films leading female, and you've got yourself close to two hours of great entertainment.
Pros:The setting which really helps to get you into the movie. Camilla Belle does an excellent job as Jill Johnson.
The stranger serves up some really suspensful moments during his limited on screen time. A solid script, and great camera work. Also as far as the ending goes, it's a very smart one that wraps things up nicely.
Overall:Definitely worth seeing even at the regular movie ticket price of 10 bucks a pop. "When A Stranger Calls" is a very special movie because it proves that with a solid script, great acting, and great directing, a PG-13 remake can work and be very good viewing...and hey, if that can happen, then anythings possible.
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