Monday, September 23, 2013

Jason revisits When A Stranger Calls (2006)

Back before remakes were a dime a dozen there was When A Stranger Calls, a riff on the 1979 babysitter-in-jeopardy thriller starring Carol Kane and Charles Durning. I don't recall anyone asking for it, nor it going over well with critics, but I was surprised by how much I dug it. Does the flick hold up? Stick with me.

During an otherwise routine babysitting gig, a high-school student is harassed by an increasingly threatening prank caller. 

Yup, When A Stranger Calls (2006) holds up. Everything I liked about the flick on my first viewing still worked. Director Simon West and screenwriter Jake Wade Wall took the first terrifying act of the original and extended it into a feature film, one that's frightening on its own level, even with a PG-13 rating.

Lead actress Camilla Belle is a big part of the film's success. She's good enough to carry what is essentially a one-woman show with little dialogue. And she's stunningly beautiful in every shot. Not a bad combination.

West is no John Carpenter, but he does produce slow-burn tension that pays off in an exciting cat-and-mouse climax. This When A Stranger Calls is more about suspense and atmosphere -- courtesy of a very creepy, yet modern, house -- than blood and violence. Sue me, this horror veteran was still hooked. 

And yes, that's genre vet Lance Henriksen as the voice of the caller.

I've caught When A Stranger Calls a couple of times now, and will again. Yeah, more kills would have been awesome, but I still dug this suspense-filled ride. A Good.
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