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When A Stranger Calls

  • Film

Time Out says

Fred Walton’s 1979 version of ‘When a Stranger Calls’ featured an intensely scary 20-minute opening followed by over an hour of tedious padding and a killer ending. Simon West’s recidivist teen horror movie ‘revisits’ the original, stretches out the first 20 minutes to feature length and, likewise, outstays its welcome by about 60 minutes. Also, crucially, it ignores the fact that Walton’s landline-based twist ending makes no sense in an age of mobile phones. ‘Have you checked the children?’ enquires a mystery male caller repeatedly, driving 16-year-old babysitter Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) out of her mind and, eventually, out of the house. Her overused mobile phone confiscated by her angry parents, the helpless Jill can only check the doors and windows, and reset the fancy alarm system. Meanwhile, she’s chased around her employer’s glass-heavy house and shadow-filled designer garden by West’s relentless Steadicam and hand-held cameras. If you’ve seen either ‘Black Christmas’ or ‘Halloween’, there’s nothing new here: the hyped-up score keeps telling us we ought to be scared, but the suspense feels mechanical and fake.
Written by Nigel Floyd
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