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When A Stranger Calls (DVD)

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Genre: Crime & Thriller / Theatrical Release: 2006 / Director: Simon West / Actors: Camilla Belle, Clark Gregg ... / DVD released 11 September, 2006 at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, PAL

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    15 Reviews
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      13.10.2013 20:01
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      a good film about a crazy man on the loose

      Film Only Review

      ~When A Stranger Calls~

      Released : 2006 (remake)
      Certificate : 15
      Director : Simon West
      Running Time : 87minutes

      Teenager Jill Johnson has to take on some babysitting jobs to pay off her high phone bill. Her first job is babysitting two children at an isolated house. The house is massive and owned by a very rich couple. Whilst babysitting, Jill receives a number of phone calls from a complete stranger with each call being more threatening than the last one. The children and threatened, the police are contacted and Jill is told that the call is coming from within the house.

      Jill : Camilla Belle
      Stranger : Tommy Flanagan
      Dr Mandrakis : Derek de Lint
      Kelly Mandrakis : Kate Jennings Grant

      The DVD can currently be purchased from Amazon priced from 1p (used) and £1.62 (new).

      ~My Thoughts~

      I have watched this film on a number of occasions. I am a big horror fan and like this type of film but the plot isn't completely unique. The film starts off at a fun fair within a residential area - very American. An unknown girls takes a few phone calls from a rather creepy sounding male and is then slaughtered in quite a dramatic way. Whilst we don't actually get to witness the killing, what is left of her body is removed from the house in a number of bags as opposed to one complete body bag. We are then taken to 125miles away in Colorado and the real story begins.

      Jill is portrayed like many other American teenage girls in other films and her character development is good through the film. She is a keen runner and has a boyfriend who she believes has cheated on her with another girl. Her parents have took a dim view on her running up an extortionate cell phone bill hence her having to babysit. In my opinion, her acting is good and well suited to this particular role. I would say that the acting within When A Stranger Calls is generally good but not outstanding. Jill is the main character and there isn't much of a emphasis on the other characters except for the stranger who we hear on the phone calls. I can't say that I am familiar with the actors in this film.

      This film isn't particularly long compared to other horror films and it does have a Scream feel to it in my opinion with the phone calls. The film progresses well as soon as Jill arrives at the Mandrakis house. The setting for the film is perfect. The house is massive and completely isolated. There is good use of lighting and music in the film which results in suspense and a good build up to potential scares. Combine that with wet and wild weather outside and you have a good setting for a horror film. Personally, I would have been creeped out in that house especially with the children being in bed from the moment I arrived.

      I wouldn't say that this film is the scariest film that I even watched but it does have a really creepy feel to it which I liked. Of course the main focus is on the phone calls that Jill receives. At first, she doesn't take them seriously as she considers them to be a prank from her boyfriend. Things turn more sinister and we begin to discover that there is more to the phone calls than a simple prank. Tommy Flanigan (the strangers voice) is just right for this type of film. It is deep, intense and puts the fear of death in to you when he threatens you.

      Additional characters make small appearances within the film and they do play a part in the storyline being more dramatic. The reactions of shock and fear by Jill are very realistic especially as the film progresses as she is more aware of the dangers that the children and herself face. The children, Will and Allison have a small role in the film and play it well - innocent and totally unaware of the danger they are in. Half way through the film, the fear experienced by Jill is very much evident. She is practically alone with no means of escape and cannot get hold of her friends due to poor reception. The police aren't particularly helpful at first but when she is told about the caller being inside the house, she must take matters in to her own hands.

      I must admit that when I watch this film, I do become majorly creeped out by the different effects and events that surround Jill in that house. It is amazing how easily a strangers voice or a dark hallway can grab your attention and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The moment Jill realises that she is being watched is where the film kicks off and we soon realise that no amount of alarm systems and modern technology will keep you completely safe. The ending is good but not the best ending to a horror film in my opinion. Some scenes were a bit of a cliche and not much different to other modern, American horror films but the intensity was there and the film was ended well in my opinion as we find things out about the stranger.

      ~Conclusion~

      All in all I would say that this is a good film. It isn't amazing but it does have a good plot which is acted out well. It isn't original in any way shape or form but is enjoyable to watch. I found myself jumping at certain scenes mainly due to the setting and soundeffects. It all comes together well to produce an easy to watch horror film and therefore I recommend it. Don't be looking for some hardcore horror and you won't be disappointed. I haven't seen the original film so cannot compare.

      Thanks for reading :)

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        08.06.2010 22:08
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        A watchable film that I wouldn't really recommend

        INTRODUCTION

        I love horror/thriller films, especially ones that make you think. The idea is good and when i read about it I decided to give it a go. I have seen the original aswell so there maybe some comparing going on, as I did prefer the original. But here is my verdict...

        URBAN LEGENDS

        The film is based on a popular urban legend that has been around for quite some time. An urban legend is a story that is supposedly true but it always happens to a friend of a friend, there usually isn't any proof and most horror urban legends don't have much truth to them. The famous one that this film is based on is: A girl is babysitting and she keeps getting calls. When she phones the police they find out that the culprit is inside!

        ORIGINAL

        The original film was released in 1979. It was written and directed by Fred Walton and also went on to release a sequel 'When a Stranger calls back' in 1993. Both films were good and in there own way quite frightening. It does seem a little dated now, but the general tense atmosphere is still there and the acting is top notch. The plot is exactly the same which i will explain now...

        PLOT

        Jill Johnson is a typical teenage girl and after she has run up an impressive phone bill her punishment is to go and babysit. She doesn't want to go due to it being out in the middle of nowhere and the house being big and intimidating. However, she is forced to otherwise her phone will be taken off her.
        When she arrives the children's parents show her around and tell her the rules. It looks as if things won't be so bad afterall! Then the phone starts to ring. She answers. No one there. The phone rings again. Heavy breathing. The phone rings again. 'Have you checked the children?'

        Jill gets scared and calls the police and they say that they can trace the call. The phone rings again. 'Jill he is inside the house, get the children and get out of there'.
        Bring on a night of terror as we witness Jill trying to escape the stranger!

        CHARACTERS AND ACTING

        Camilla Belle - Jill Johnson
        Tommy Flanagan - Stranger
        Katie Cassidy - Tiffany
        Tessa Thompson - Scarlet
        Brian Geraghty - Bobby
        Clark Gregg - Ben Johnson
        Derek de Lint - Dr. Mandrakis (as Derek Lint)
        Steve Eastin - Detective Hines
        John Bobek - Officer Lewis
        Overall the acting is good. Camille Belle does portray a her character very well. There are moments when she becomes less convincing but most of the time she pulls off the scared teenager quite well.

        The rest of the characters don't appear much in the actual film but i put them up because they are still integral to the plot. What bit of acting they do, is up to scratch however, with just a couple of performances lacking believability.

        SPECIAL EFFECTS

        There aren't too many moments where special effects are important. In my opinion, this is a good thing for this type of film. It is easier to relate to something that is very easily accomplished in real life.
        What effects there are, are to a good standard and don't really make the film any worse than it already is.

        SOUNDTRACK

        "Lock It" - Written by Joe Faraci
        Performed by Faraci
        Most of the music is suspense building tunes. It adds to the atmosphere and does work in the films favour. The intensity of the music defines when something bad is going to happen like with all films. However, here its when there is no music you have to worry!

        FILM STATS

        Released - 12 May 2006
        Certificate 15 - terror, violence and some language
        Run time - 87 minutes
        Director - Simon West
        Writers - Jake Wade Wall (screenplay), Steve Feke (1979 screenplay)
        IMDB Rating - 4.7/10 (16,104 votes)

        MY OPINION

        Having seen the original I knew that this would not live up to expectations. The main reason for this is because the original is a lot more intense. It is hard for a director to achieve this. I thought the overall atmosphere was a lot less frightening than the first one. This is partly due to the acting and partly to do with the director.
        The thing that has changed is obviously the development of the technology. Jill has a mobile phone throughout this movie, that most of the time has a signal until when its needed of course. The technology made this a lot less exciting because there are so many ways to contact the outside world...Granted the addition of technology enhances the film in some ways. The sophisticated burglar alarm and sprinkler systems do add to the difficulty of getting out, or in for that matter.

        Also it gets boring. Your tired of hearing noises but not seeing anything, your tired of the phone ringing and your tired of the non-threatening 'jumpy' moments (seeing something in the corner that turns out to be a coat hanging up).
        Overall, I was definitely disappointed with this film. It lacked the appeal and the intensity of the first one. This is a shame though because it could have been great.

        IS IT FOR YOU

        If you have seen the original then give this one a miss because you will only be disappointed. For the lovers of the genre then go for it...It does have its 'jumpy' moments. However, those of you that are generally interested because of the story i recommend you watch the original.

        £3.97 from Amazon

        Also on ciao

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          21.02.2010 21:44
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          a frightened babysitter tormented by a mysterious stranger

          When a Stranger Calls (2006)

          Genre: horror/thriller

          Writer: Jake Wade Wall
          Dir.: Simon West

          Cast:
          Camilla Belle - Jill Johnson
          Tommy Flanagan - Stranger
          Katie Cassidy - Tiffany
          Tessa Thompson - Scarlet
          Brian Geraghty - Bobby
          Clark Gregg - Ben Johnson
          Derek De Lint - Dr. Mandrakis
          Kate Jennings Grant - Kelly Mandrakis

          Plot:
          Jill, a high school girl, is babysitting in a large secluded house out by a lake.
          She begins receiving creepy phone calls. At first, she thinks it's her friends, until a man on the other end of the line asks her about the children. Fearful, she checks on the children, who are fine. Another phone call reveals that he knows that she checked on the children, and she realizes that he's watching her.
          Jill calls the police, but there's nothing they can do.
          The calls persist and Jill becomes more and more frightened. She again calls the cops and they agree to trace the number.
          While searching for the maid that Jill thought had left long ago she discovers that the stranger is inside the house.
          Jill gathers up the children and tries to get out of the house as the stranger attacks.
          Will she be able to save the children and escape from the deranged stranger?

          My thoughts:
          This is a good movie. It is a remake of the 1979 movie of the same name.
          Remakes rarely live up to the originals, but this one does a pretty good job.
          It's very eerie and suspenseful and the low lighting really adds to the spooky ambience.
          The movie is well written and well directed.
          The cast and the performances are quite good.
          Camilla Belle is excellent as Jill. She's very good at playing the frightened victim. Her performance is very real and very believable.
          Tommy Flanagan as the stranger is quite imposing. And, when you finally get a quick glimpse of his face it is quite menacing.
          The house itself becomes another character in the film with its motion activated lights and its indoor terrarium. The beauty and the advanced technology become increasingly ominous as the film progresses.
          The movie does have some of your average horror movie clichés and there is a bit of originality, but it doesn't really take away from the entertainment or the enjoyment.
          Although the original film was praised by critics, this one was not, as it was given mostly poor reviews.
          However, poor reviews did not hamper the films public appeal and the movie was quite successful.
          The original movie spawned a sequel, and there have been many rumors that this one will have a sequel, but nothing has ever been confirmed one way or the other.
          Overall, this is a good movie and an above average remake. If you're a fan of horror movies you'll undoubtedly enjoy this one. If you're hesitant to see this one for fear of not living up to the original you should give it a chance, I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised. I would certainly recommend this one.

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          27.01.2010 12:55
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          Not as bad as I expected

          Jill Johnson is a regular teenager at high school who, instead of being allowed to go to the bonfire party all her friends are going to, is forced to babysit to pay off her mobile phone charges. She is initially impressed with the house - the owners are clearly rich and have a beautiful, but isolated, lake-side house with all the latest mod cons, and a fridge full of food. Then Jill starts to receive odd phone calls. Initially, she puts them down to her boyfriend and best friend Tiffany, with whom she has recently fallen out, especially when Tiffany turns up unannounced. Then she realises that it is someone who really wants to scare her and the caller becomes increasingly threatening. Who is the caller, where is he and why is he targetting Jill? More importantly, will she and the children be able to escape alive?

          Jill Johnson is played by Camilla Belle and, although not a brilliant performance, it is certainly competent enough. There is some attempt to develop Jill as a character, by giving her a cheating boyfriend and best friend, but she doesn't really connect with the audience as perhaps she might. She does need to look frightened a lot of the time and I thought she did that well enough though. I wouldn't immediately rush out and buy another film that she appears in, but she's certainly not as bad as I thought she would be - bearing in mind the reviews for the film have been virtually all highly critical. I suppose I would have preferred the main character not to be a high school student - I get a bit bored of the leads in horror films being teenagers - but then I can appreciate that the target audience is largely that age group.

          There isn't really anyone else in the film that stands out. The second billing on imdb.com is for the caller, who barely appears in the film at all. Jill's friend Tiffany, played by Katie Cassidy (who I last saw in Taken), is fine as a bitchy blonde, but doesn't really have enough of a role to make much of an impression. This is most definitely not a film that relies on its characters to tell the story.

          I had virtually zero expectations for this film. It has been almost universally panned, particularly because it doesn't compare favourably to the original film made in the seventies (this one was made in 2006). I haven't seen that film and so can't compare - but I did presume that it was going to be a largely dull film with no scary bits. Actually, I thought the atmosphere to the film was great. The house Jill is babysitting in is massive and very isolated and full of creepy corners, despite being very modern, and the music, full of discordant sounds, matches it well. I did find myself sat on the edge of my seat more than once because it never is completely certain what is going to happen next. I tend to prefer horror/thriller films that are more about what might happen rather than what does happen and this film does that well as far as I am concerned - there is very little violence until right at the end.

          On the negative side, there are some rather silly parts to the story that don't fit in or that aren't finished off properly. For a start, it is obvious from fairly early on just who the caller is - at least, we don't know his identity, but we do know what he does for a living and that he is picking on Jill for purely random reasons! Apparently, in the original, this was not revealed and so came across as being that much more scary. It is also never explained why there is a maid who lives in the house who can't babysit for the children - she apparently has a sick mother that she cares for sometimes, but as she is in the house at the beginning of the film, she obviously isn't in that much of a hurry to get to her. And although Jill calls the police, the children's parents and her friends for help, she doesn't call her father, who drove her to the house just a couple of hours before.

          What probably finished the film off completely in most people's mind is the ending. Just as you think it is all over, after a fairly terrifying chase, you discover that there is more to come. Unfortunately, what comes is really a waste of time and I was left wondering what on earth I'd just seen. I think it was an attempt to pad the film out for a bit longer (it is only 87 minutes long), but frankly, it wasn't necessary and it left me with a bad taste in my mouth after a film that I otherwise quite enjoyed. Less is quite often more - something that it's a shame director Simon West didn't take on board. I really respect directors who cut a film short once the story's been told, even if it is under 90 minutes.

          There are a few special features. This includes two audio commentaries - one with the director and Camilla Belle, and the other featuring the writer, Jake Wade Wall. Then there are a couple of deleted scenes - neither of which were necessary to the film, but wouldn't have been out of place either. The behind the scenes documentary is worth a watch if you liked the film - there are brief interviews with Simon West, Camilla Belle, Jake Wade Wall and members of the production team. There wasn't anything earth-shattering revealed, but it was interesting enough. Finally, there are a selection of trailers for films as different as Monster House and The Da Vinci Code.

          All in all, I did enjoy this film. It most certainly isn't without its faults, but it engaged me from start to finish - and that is something that a lot of horror films don't manage to do these days. Nor am I easily scared - but I did jump a couple of times during the course of the film. Perhaps it was my low expectations that made it seem a lot better than I thought it was going to be. In that case, if you want to watch it, go in with low expectations and you might just enjoy it. Unfortunately, some silly bits and the ending make it far from perfect. Three stars out of five.

          The DVD is available from play.com for £3.99.

          Classification: 15

          Running time: 87 minutes

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            13.01.2010 16:49
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            Entertaining scarefest

            Over the past few years, Hollywood has appeared to abandon its murky horror routes in favour of something more glossier and appealing to the masses. Dressing the bulk of their horror films up as psychological thrillers obviously pulls in the audience, as they have never been more popular. The last decade saw such "classics" as The Ring and The Grudge getting an all out Hollywood treatment, on the back of their Japanese origins. One those Hollywood execs were done regurgitating the Japanese classics, and tacking on aimless sequels, they moved to another source for their material.

            In this remake of the 1979 hit of the same name, Jill Johnson is babysitting for friends of her parents when they go out for the evening. She's barely in the house a few hours when strange phone calls start to come through. At first they appear innocent, but then things take a sinister turn. At first, Jill believes that it is just some friends of her ex boyfriend making prank calls, but as the calls get more personal and creepy, she becomes aware of someone watching her. Jill takes all the right steps, she calls the police, switches on the alarm, locks the windows, and closes the curtains, but none of it seems to deter the strange figure from spying on her movements and freaking her out inside the house. Stranded 20 minutes drive from the nearest town, Jill has to rely on her own wits to outmanoeuvre the mysterious voice.

            This film follows a tried and tested formula, throwing into the pot every red herring and cliché known to the horror audience. Where this most often proves only adequate in lesser hands, Simon West proves deft in delivering the right scares in all the right places. There are many a daft plot point that is neither relevant nor interesting, but they are discarded, as the film heads full throttle into the terrifying and tense final act. The film attempts to emulate Hitchcock in some places, but ends up coming across more like an efficient Halloween sequel. West manages to make use of dark and tight spaces in the same effective way that John Carpenter did.

            Of course, as the film so often tries to get it right, and nearly always succeeds, the villain is largely off screen leaving the fear to the imagination of the main protagonist and our tightly wound audience. Like the aforementioned Halloween films, the villain's motives are never explained, and the initial gory horror of the opening act are replaced with off screen killings. The lack of gore is slightly disappointing, despite the promise of the opening act. If you're going to go all out to freak the audience with gallons of blood, you might as well maintain that for the remainder of the flick.

            Camilla Belle carries most of the film alone, with the rest of the cast getting a combined ten minutes of screen time, so its no surprise that the script lies heavily on her shoulders. That said, she is believable and manages to grab your attention as her plight becomes more dangerous. There are no dark secrets in the closet, no revelations and no twists either. What you see is what you get with this one, as the conclusion gives you exactly what you've probably expected since the opening act.

            I have no problem with a film being exactly what it says on the tin. Predictable entertainment doesn't mean its bad entertainment. If it is effectively made, hits all the right buttons, and gives you exactly what you are paying for, then what's the problem. The cast also includes Thomas Flanagan and Lance Henrikson doubling up as the stranger of the title.

            The rest of the cast are made up of
            Katie Cassidy
            Madeline Carroll
            Molly Bryant
            John Bobek
            Brian Geraghty
            Kate Jennings Grant

            The DVD is available to buy from amazon for £3.98. Available as well as the film is two commentary's from the film's director and the leading actress, as well as a making of documentary, some trailers and a few deleted scenes. I am not a great fan of extra's unless a film really captures my attention, and these one's were pretty lacklustre. The biggest problem is that DVD is supposed to provide room and incentive to buy it in this format, and yet they are never used to their full potential. That is why I find blu-ray so pointless in that respect, because they haven't yet utilised the full capacity of DVD in most respects, but that's another complaint, and possibly another review. For now, I would recommend this film to people who are fans of fairly cheap thrills, a fair amount of scares, and a good looking horror film set in a creepy location.

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            23.07.2009 19:38
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            Not scary, a little tense, watchable but highly annoying

            When A Stranger calls is a thriller staring Camilla Belle as a babysitter grounded on the evening of the big school bonfire, her task, to look after a couple of sleeping children for a middle aged rich couple out in the woods whilst they are enjoying a meal, the kids are asleep, the maid is in feeding the birds and fish and the house has a high tech alarm system and windows all around the house, no one can get in, surely, wrong, they forgot to take into account one very obvious thing, a young, naive girl of 16.

            Why in thrillers and horrors, does this happen to a group or singular young teen, for me it always makes the film less scary, surely the tension and suspense put into the film is there in order for you to want the victim to survive, all too often though in films such as this, the viewers are activly wanting the victim to be struck down by the killer.

            This is a remake of the 1979 horror of the same name, although I have yet to see that, I have heard this is a better version...which doesn't make me want to see the original, the lead is supposed to be a smart, athletic 16 year old girl who has been grounded and punished with babysitting the couples 2 children (who's names aren't even told to the babysitter...), she's certainly not the brightest spark in the film despite a few clever ideas, such as the tequila/electric fire...she certainly gets frightend at the easiest things, such as Roas, the maid, not being in the aviatory for a few seconds, she starts to lose it, perhaps also running across to the guest house, knowing someone is watching you and leaving the house unattended (despite the alarm) and then locking yourself in the guest house in the pitch black...not the cleverest idea (although no harm eventually really comes from this).

            The whole plot is your general amaerican horror classic, young girl, alone, being terrorised, what next, either she'll be brutally murdered or she'll somehow escape, the ending I thought was fairly obvious, not only that but it ended very quickly, as if the directors had run out of ideas and thought they should end it, we see the killer for around 5 minutes before suddenly...it's all over, i've seen better endings from Eastenders quite frankly.

            The big thing about this film is phones, everyone except Jill and the stranger seem to have horrible signal, ok, maybe the police as well, how and why neither her parents or the childs parents answered their phone (to someone you may think as very important to them at the time) is rather unsual, i found Tiffany's dilemma rather humorous I have to say, if someone was that scared they could easily dial 911 or phone Jill back.

            One good thing about this film is that it does play quite well on the suspense and tension, rather than showing the killer what is insinuated is alot more scary than plainfully put infront of you, too many films these days things gore = scary, despite this though we still ended up wanting the babysitter to die, maybe a bit sadistic to wish a 16 year old girl brutally hacked to death but hey, this is a movie.

            At the end of the day, this is not a terrible movie, it is watchable and in the same way that Hostel is I would watch it again in the future, but the predictability and sheer unoriginalness (if thats even a word) means this movie had to do something special to make it any different to your normal, corny american young thriller, unfortunatly it did no such thing, it's not a bad movie on the face of things, it's easily watchable on a lazy day or to have on in the background and some parts are very tense, although none of it is really scary, the ending is awful and very quick and the lead (although not Belles fault) not being the smartest puts this film low down on the thrillers/scary list, watchable but with so many annoyances it isn't really very scary.

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              27.02.2009 16:49
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              Don't bother!

              When A Stranger Calls is a remake of the 1979 horror, now I haven't seen the original but my Dad has & after seeing the remake he told me that the original was miles better than the remake & I can very easily believe that! When A Stranger Calls was released 3rd February 2006, it's rated 15 & runs for approximately 99 minutes. The film pretty much bombed at the box office, having said that it did gross an estimated $66.9 million on a $15 million budget but this was not a popular choice with the critics at all, infact only 10% of the critics gave this film a half decent review. Now I'm not one to follow critics but 90% couldn't be wrong could they?

              The film is directed by Simon West & since his phenomenal directorial debut with the film Con air he seems to have gone slowly downhill, in 2001 he directed the first Lara Croft film which wasn't too bad but from the dazzling heights of Con Air to the not even mediocre When A Stranger Calls is a significant drop in class & if his next film follows the same pattern my predictions for it are extremely bad!

              The main character Jill Johnson is played by Camilla Belle who's appeared in films such as: Jurassic Park & 10,000BC. Her upcoming film is called Push & stars Chris Evans & Dakota Fanning.

              When A Stranger Calls, I think the title pretty much gives it away don't you? For those of you who don't know what the film is about it's basically about Jill, who gets into trouble & is forced to baby-sit for a wealthy family with two children. On arrival the children are already asleep, the parents leave, leaving Jill alone to do as she pleases while the children sleep. Not long after the parents departure Jill starts to receive phone calls, at first it appears to be a prank caller as no one says anything but then she gets a call & hears a voice down the phone say 'have you checked the children'. Upon hearing this Jill is a little unnerved so decides to check on them, they're fine but after returning downstairs again there's another phone call, the caller somehow knows that Jill went upstairs. Jill immediately calls the police & they tell her to keep him on the phone so they can trace the call, she manages to do this & the police inform her that the calls are coming from inside the house...

              I was quite looking forward to seeing this, I didn't get round to seeing it at the cinema so I bought it on DVD when it was released. I had heard that it's a modern day horror, that in some ways imitates Scream. The Scream trilogy are some of my favourite horrors so I did have high hopes for this film but sadly this fell flat within about half an hour.

              It's very slow to get going & once it does get going it never really hits full speed! The acting isn't bad although it's nothing to shout home about, this isn't something that I would want to see again. The story is good & this film could have been so much better than it was, when I heard afterwards that the director of this was also responsible for Con Air I was very surprised as Con Air is an amazing film, you simply can't fault it & with When A Stranger Calls you can do nothing but fault it!

              I was extremely let down by this film & felt that it was a complete waste of money, I don't actually know why I still own it, I should have sold it on eBay as soon as I finished watching it. This film only runs for just over an hour & a half & I remember just counting down the minutes until it ended. Amongst all it's critism though I have to say that I did watch it through to the end as I did want to see how it turned out but it's something that I was willing to finish not something I was excited about seeing. After seeing the ending of this I thought 'why didn't I just turn it off half way through?' the ending was incredibly poor, much like the entire film.

              If you are still really keen to watch this film then by all means go for it! The special features don't make up for this awful film by a long way! They include:
              Audio commentary from director Simon West
              Audio commentary from the film's screenwriter
              Deleted scenes
              'Making Of' featurette

              All I can say is that if you want a good suspense horror then you're not going to find it in this, it's a complete waste of time & money & I would challenge anyone to watch this & tell me otherwise. If you want a film that's as good as Scream you're better off just watching Scream itself then you can avoid all disappointment & actually watch three brilliant suspense horrors.

              When A Stranger Calls is currently available from play.com for £4.99 & the original that I have been debating whether to watch or not will cost you £5.99. The soundtrack is also available from play.com but for the more expensive price of £11.12.

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                14.11.2008 00:02
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                A true edge of the seat movie!

                I am no lover of remakes but this movie totally outshines the original, when a stranger calls is a remake of the 1979 film of the same name but it is far superior to the original in every way.

                The story is set around Jill Johnson, a high school student who has been grounded. Jill was looking forward to a local bonfire but after running up huge mobile phone bills her parents have demanded she stay home and babysit.

                Jill gets a phone call telling her to go and check on the children and when she does this she is immediately phoned again asking her how they were, Jill realises that she is being watched and rings the police but the stranger on the phone is already in the house and this leads to one of the scariest movies and edge of the seat stuff I have seen in years.

                The acting in the movie was very, very good and that of course helps to make the movie what it is, there is not really one poor performance throughout and I can honestly say the hairs stood up on the back of my neck at times watching this movie and the last film that had that effect on me was the original Halloween.

                THE MAIN CAST:

                Camilla Belle - Jill Johnson
                Tommy Flanagan - The Stranger
                Katie Cassidy - Tiffany
                John Bobek - Officer Lewis
                Lance Henriksen - The Stranger's voice
                Molly Bryant - Mom
                Madeline Carroll - Alison
                David Denman - Burroughs
                Brian Geraghty - Bobby
                Escher Holloway - Cody
                Kate Jennings Grant - Kelly Mandrakis
                Derek de Lint - Dr. Mandrakis

                The DVD is rated 15 and has some extras such as two commentaries, a 20 minute featurette and a selection of deleted scenes. This movie can be found in many places for around £5.99 and it is worth every penny of that and more!

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                13.11.2008 23:25

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                Great horror I love it

                Do you like a horror? Do you like things to work your mind? Do you like new horros, with technology in them? When a stranger calls is a horror set in America that used technology and modern things in a house, which also makes it that much more scary.

                Iv watched it a few times, and I now find it like a roller coaster: I dred it and can't wait for it to come to that bit at the end.

                It all starts with Jill, who has to baby site a big posh house in the middle of no where, whilst being there a few things happen, in this house which is spooky in its self, with its setting and windows.

                The phone rings and it all works out when the operator calls back, and everytime the phone rings you dred it.

                The two children she is baby sitting don't really make it too spooky, it's more the technology and phones which you work out to be the scary bit.

                I think this is a great thriller and I love it. But I wouldn't reccoment it to anyone under 15-16 or anyone who is sensitive.

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                17.10.2008 20:07
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                It really scared me.

                When a Stranger Calls. I heard about this coming out and wanted to go and see it in teh cinema, but I then just got the DVD.

                I 1st watched it when I was at home at night, with just my 3 younger brother asleep in bed.

                It was quite a good start, as it really got my mind going and working things out. The scene then flicks on to the start of the story, with a teenage girl, named Jill, who is in high school.
                It then finally gets to her going to the house, which looks spooky in its self, as its in the middle of nowhere, and has some very spooky features to it.

                There are a few scares as it builds up to the main horrific bits, and then the movie ads in some scecne where your saying: "Don't go out there, don't do that."

                As it's american its a bit different to UK, with things like the phones, which are a main part of the movie, and also the alarm system.

                It all ends, and what is good, is you actaully see his face!

                I was scared watching it, as it really spooked me.

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                17.09.2008 23:03
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                Just stay away from this movie.

                When a Stranger Calls, now i have watched the movie but personally im not to sure if they have the details right because apparently this is meant to be a horror movie.

                Naw i'm kidding it was actually quite scary, ill rephrase that, it was VERY scary. The movie was 1 hour and 20 mins and i was worried that if i watched another 5 minutes of it i may actually die of boredem.

                Ok starting with the plot, without spoilers:
                *breathes heavily*
                Crap, i just gave away the whole story, sorry folks. No seriously the movie is about Camilla Belle who is babysitting for some rich family. ( Oh that reminds me the house she is in is friggin' awesome :D ). Anyway she is babysitting when she starts getting mysterious phone calls and a few taunts to prove that he can see her.
                Now this is where the horror part comes in. Simon West, the director picks looks into his book, Top 100 things that must be in a scary movie, and adds all of them. You know the running of the girl through a load of trees. The strage noises. The camera zooming in on the face when she discovers something bad.

                If anything this movie reminds me of Scary Movie 1 where the killer rings and asks where he is and you can see his legs beind the couch (brilliant scene), thats how scary this movie is and thats what you are expecting to happen all through the movie.

                Seriously theres just no point to anything that happens in this movie. For example at the beginining we learn a girl gets mutilated and i presume she is cut apart without a murder weopon apparently but first of all we dont get to see it, so Saw/Hostel fans stay clear and then we find the killer hardly does anything sadistic through out the movie.

                Another pointless thing in the movie, Camillla Belle's boyfriend cheats on her, why we care about that, who knows. But then again that does let the story lead on to a fit blonde which i guess is a plus to the movie. :D

                Seriously this movie was put together well by Simon West if he was either drunk or stoned whilst creating it but if he released this thinking it was going to be a good successful movie and actually tried to put together a scary movie seriously he should stop directing and get a job at his local supermarket because he isnt cut out for directing.

                I hope you have enjoyed this review because if you do go against my advice and go on to watch this movie you will atleast think it wasnt all to bad atleast the review was an entertaining read.

                p.s. disregard my stars rating as a lot like IGN i give it 0 stars but i am not allowed to put that.

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                  05.05.2008 04:06
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                  A gripping film

                  ...Introduction...

                  When A Stranger Calls is a 15 rated remake of the 1979 film of the same name and is Directed by Simon West, Produced by John Davis
                  Wyck Godfrey and Ken Lemberger and written by Jake Wade Wall. The film is distributed by Screen Gems who are part of the Sony empire. The biggest change from the original is that in the remake there is a chase around the house but in the original threre wasnt the chase scenes.

                  ...The Cast...

                  Camilla Belle - Jill Johnson
                  Tommy Flanagan - The Stranger
                  Katie Cassidy - Tiffany
                  Lance Henriksen - The Stranger's voice
                  John Bobek - Officer Lewis
                  Molly Bryant - Mom
                  Madeline Carroll - Alison
                  David Denman - Burroughs
                  Brian Geraghty - Bobby
                  Kate Jennings Grant - Kelly Mandrakis
                  Escher Holloway - Cody
                  Derek de Lint - Dr. Mandrakis
                  Brad Surosky - Bookish Kid
                  Tessa Thompson - Scarlet
                  Kevin Wethington - Dennis Sheller
                  Arthur Young - Will

                  ...The Plot...

                  The film starts with an amusement park but the camera's view moves to a nearby house where the phone rings several times and then you next see there is a light turned on and then a shadow of a person attacking someone. The next scene is where the police arrive and find the dead body of "Stacy".

                  The film then starts on the story of High School Student Jill Johnson who has been grounded by her parents for clocking up a huge mobile phone bill after using 800 minutes of talk time. She is looking forward to going to a huge local bonfire event but as her parents won't allow her to she has to babysit for a couple who live out in the country in a Luxury apartment miles away.

                  Once she gets there she is instructed on the alarm system and everything else she needs to know and then the couple leave their home and go for a meal. Once alone Jill receives a call from a stranger. Things get scary when he asked her if she has checked on the children. When she comes down from the bedroom she is phoned again and asked How were the children? Jill then freaks out as she knows she is being watched.

                  She then starts panicking and phones the police again, this time they see there is a problem and ask her to ring keep the stranger on the phone for 60 seconds so the phone call can be traced.

                  What follows is gripping and very tense as she finds herself struggling to get away from the stranger. What makes this film is the thought of it happening to you. Everybody has had times when they think someone is there when they have heard something creak or bang this is just realising that fear.

                  ...DVD Extra's...

                  This DVD comes with plenty of extras they are two commentaries (one with Camilla Belle and Simon West; the other with Jake Wade Wall), deleted scenes, a 20-minute making-of featurette, and trailers for other movies around at the time of release like The Da Vinci Code and Ultraviolet.

                  The making of the film featurette is a worthwile part of the extras as it shows you what the actors feel about the film's concept and also what the ideas of the director and producers are in terms of where they wanted to take the audience in the film. DVD extras are now becoming more and more an integral part of a movie.

                  ...Overalll...

                  This film is weill worth watching as it has some great moments which will have you gripped. Not the best thriller I have ever seen but certainly not as bad as some of the reviews would have you believe. Take a chance and see for yourself.

                  My biggest dissapointment about this film is the time it takes to get to the part where she see the stranger. I feel that this is just too long but doesnt affect the films overall package greatly as the action afterwards safes the film from petering out a bit. The scenes afterwards are gripping especially the chase around and outside of the apartment.

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                    27.04.2008 14:10
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                    A Routine and Stupid Hollywood Thriller

                    Jill Johson is annoyed; after a fight with her parents she is stopped from going to the school bonfire and has to babysit two kids 100 miles away from her friends, without the use of her mobile phone. When she arrives at the house she is shocked, it's a luxurious flat on the waterfront, with expensive gadgets, stark architecture and closets full of expensive clothes. The kids are asleep in their beds and she is left to talk to her friends on the house phone and look around. But out of the blue, strange, sinister phone calls urge her to lock everything up and stay stationary with fear, scared by any noise in the house. But as the calls become increasingly frightening, she is forced to question the whereabouts of this prankster, could he be closer than she imagined?

                    When A Stranger Calls is a dreadful, silly, annoying little teen thriller which lacks scares, thrills or anything of major merit or interest. The whole thing is really dull, the premise irritating, the cast wooden and by the time the script kicks in and something actually happens you will be about ready to switch the thing off and forget about it - seen only as a misstep in your movie viewing resume. The main problem is that nothing actually happens..... there is very little action and even less characterisation - there isn't a reason to care whether the characters live or die and the screenplay is stupid enough to leave the film without any climax (except a laughable, spoof like attempt at a twist). Tension is replaced with irritation, thrills are sidelined for stupidity and it is extremely difficult to get past the un-believability and flatness of the whole thing.

                    The first half of when A Stranger Calls has to be the most boring and irritating of any movie; it consists of characters saying stupid things in air-head accents as well as the lead character walking around a house jumping at various objects (cats, coats, lights, sprinklers - I kid you not) and getting not-all-that-threatening phone calls. Considering that the movie only last 87 minutes, it is miraculous just how longwinded and tedious the crew make the whole thing, although I will give credit to the editor, who manages to show about a million exterior shots of the house in less than half an hour. I'm not exaggerating; the whole film is a complete bore with only a slight pickup of pace, towards the very end and even this 'climax' peters out without any real conclusion or action. When the 'fight' sequences do rear their heads they are fairly well choreographed and at times kind of (read: not especially) exciting with some nice sharp camera angles and a few good sound effects but it really is too little, too late.

                    Simon West's direction doesn't help things; he shows no visual finesse, no knowledge of how to build tension, no sense of pace and doesn't even attempt to give the film a sense of continuity or intelligence. He uses loud sound effects and screeching violins to build tension and fright instead of making the events truly unsettling and he doesn't make the stakes high enough; the main threat doesn't feel menacing, the fight sequences aren't very gritty, the horror is truly less than chilling and the overall sense of dread is non-existent. What could have been a brain dead but fun horror showdown is turned into a tepid, witless excuse to make a quick buck; the characters aren't ever in any real danger (the script is too busy pandering to the age's 8-12 crowd for that) and there is not one scrap of blood in the whole thing (how it garnered a 15 certificate I will never know). This isn't immediate or urgent film-making; it doesn't get the heart pumping or force you to sit on the edge of your seat ...... it's simply bland and cynical.

                    The screenplay sticks rigidly to the horror formulae, but doesn't use the clichés to its advantage, there's no campy fun to be had, no genuine chills offered and the dialogue is enough to kill all of your remaining brain cells. None of the events make sense, characters pop in and out without much explanation and the big 'twist' - which could have offered a few screams and a bit of tension- is signposted from the get go (not mentioning the fact that it is clearly shown in the trailer). To make up for the heap of junk that is the first half the scriptwriters try to pack a lot of things into the second, making the movie loose all focus and making the audience loose all interest. The situation is never given any weight - the writing is too flat and routine, they could have injected some punch into the proceedings, but choose to lay a boring foundation and then tack bits of tedious trickery on. The opening sequences is meant to build tension for the events to come, but only serves to build your expectations (which are shortly dashed) and the finale doesn't make much sense, it opens up more questions than it answers (where is she? Why is she there? What that real? Who was the killer? Why was he harassing her? Where are the kids? Is it all a dream?) and comes off as a cheap rip off of countless, better executed horror flicks. The whole thing would have been better if it had gone down the I Still Know What You Did Last Summer route and threw out all logic or suspense and gone for campy, bloody, stupid fun.

                    Camilla Belle does a fairly good job in her flat role; she looks attractive in a figure hugging top and is engaging enough to stop you from completely despairing of it all. She does little to lift the film from disaster territory, but she fits into the scream-queen role with some screen presence and a tough attitude (which makes the final sequences at least a little believable). The film has one good thing going for it, the amazing house which serves as its central set piece. It's all sharp edges, glass and dark shadows; it allows for a lot of hiding places and builds a slight amount of tension. The glass exterior makes the character's seem more vulnerable and hypes up the fear and anxiety of the situation and the coldness/ blandness of the surroundings provide the film with a sly detached quality that keeps the audience at a certain distance which adds some semblance of tension. The camera work does a good job of keeping the film visually interesting and exciting.

                    Overall When A Stranger Calls is a very annoying and incompetent piece of modern day horror movie making; it takes its audience for fools, it offers very little which is entertaining and treads very familiar ground throughout. I wouldn't recommend this film, unless your looking for a replacement for sleeping tablets.

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                      02.09.2007 13:08
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                      Avoid at all costs

                      There are movies (mostly horror ones) which are so bad, they're actually good: think about all those B-movies glorified and homaged by directors like Tarantino or Roth. While I can't understand how a director could become famous and acclaimed by producing mediocre movies with a fairly high budget, I must say that some very-low-budget flicks, apart from terrible effects/acting, had something good in them (maybe even the laugh factor!) and were enjoyable. And then there are movies which are so bad, they're just plain bad.

                      TITLE: When a stranger calls
                      MPAA RATING: PG-13 (no unaccompanied children under the age of 13 are admitted) for "intense terror (???), violence (???) and some language"
                      DIRECTOR: Simon West
                      MAIN ACTORS: Camilla Belle and a bunch of Z-level, clueless "actors"

                      THE PLOT IN A NUTSHELL: Jill's cell phone bill is extremely high and her parents make her pay for it, so she accepts to baby-sit the two children of the very rich Mandrakis family. The house is huge and entirely made of glass and wood. Jill seems to start enjoying the situation, but soon she'll start receiving weird phone calls.

                      When I can't even remember the director's name, it's a bad sign. I had to look on IMDb to find out the "genius" was Simon West, also famous for masterpieces like... ehm... an episode of "Close To Home", "Tomb Raider" and "Con Air". Wow. I guess he has some mortgage issues, because I can't understand how he could accept to helm such a hopeless movie.
                      You see, the original (yes, this is a remake) "When a stranger calls" was nothing special, but it was nevertheless something new in the gory-slashers-filled horizon of horror... back in 1979. Hey, it was even referenced in Wes Craven's "Scream"... back in 1996. What I'm trying to say is: what's the point of remaking it, apart from cashing on cheap-thrill-seeking teenagers? Most of all, what's the point of remaking it without even trying to adapt it to our times (no, the cell phone bit is not a modernization - it's just a horribly bad attempt to give a backstory)? I mean, Zack Snyder remade a 1978 movie ("Dawn of the dead") and tried to do his own thing; Rob Zombie now remade "Halloween" and tried to do his own thing (I haven't seen the movie yet, so I don't know if it's good); here we just have a rather dull knock-off which is not even remotely scary, unless you think cats appearing out of nowhere are scary.
                      Add the fact that the only somewhat decent plot twist (where is the stalker calling from) was happily spoiled in the trailer, some huge logic holes, like Camilla Belle coming out of water completely dry (no see-through? What did you cast her for, then? :D Seriously, she's hot and she can act too, but unfortunately the rest of the acting ranged from bad to nearly unwatchable) and a final sequence which is forced and uninspiring at best and you have a bad teenage thriller, which is exactly what "When a stranger calls" is.

                      This movie lacked just a few things: a better director, a better screenwriter and better actors. Yes, pretty much everything. What a pity.

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                        17.05.2006 22:19
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                        Watch the trailer - it's all you'll ever need!

                        Having fallen out with her parents over some minor misdemeanour, teenaged student Jill finds herself grounded, just in time for the annual high school bonfire party. Whilst her friends pass the evening at the wild, open air party, Jill has been signed up for a babysitting job and is driven out into the country by her father. Despite being disappointed at not being able to see her friends, she is astounded by the scale of the house in which she is to spend the night. A little luxury should go some way to taking her mind of the problem. After a brief tour of the house and facilities by the doctor / owner and his wife, Jill is left alone in the huge lakeside house, with only the two young children and the doctor’s housekeeper for company.

                        Unable to concentrate on her book, Jill soon decides to explore the darkened house, but just when she is having fun dressing up in the doctor’s wife’s jewellery, she hears the front door slam. Rushing back into the living room, she calls out to see who is there, but when nobody responds, believes it to be the wind playing tricks. But if the wind is playing tricks, it is certainly having a busy night. Strange noises reverberate around the house. Lights appear to come on and off and then the telephone rings. Alone in the house, Jill becomes increasingly unsettled as each time the telephone rings, a mysterious caller becomes more threatening. For Jill, this is going to be a long night – if she can survive that long……..

                        Do you like scary movies? If you do, then steer well clear of this one. I’ve found more frightening things on the bathroom floor. “When A Stranger Calls” is quite simply 89 minutes of pure, unadulterated rubbish that only the most hardened movie goer will tolerate to the bitter end.

                        Essentially a stretched out version of the introductory scenes to Scream, the latest version of Stranger is a remake of the 70s movie of the same name. The premise doesn’t strike me as something particularly crying out for a remake, given only that the plot relies on suspense and intrigue, rather than big budget and special effects, but here it is nonetheless. The story is very simple. A babysitter alone in a strange house gradually finds herself stalked by a threatening caller, who knows a bit too much about what she’s doing for comfort. Is he watching her from the woods, or is there something rather more sinister going on? I’d like to leave it to you to find out for yourself, but unfortunately, if you’ve read any other review, or even seen the trailer, you’ll know exactly what’s going on.

                        Yes, that’s right. No spoiler alert and no sense of responsibility from the studio here as they blatantly and unbelievably give the game away in the middle of the cinematic trailer. I wondered whether I was being fooled. Were they trying to suggest that one thing was going on, when in fact something else would happen or there would a subsequent further twist or twists? The answer, sadly, is no. With “When a Stranger Calls” what you see is what you get. And what I saw was cack.

                        It was cack on so many levels, I’ll give the director that. For starters, where it managed to secure a 15 certificate from, I shall never know. With not a sniff of blood or gore or the merest hint of any nudity, this appears to be one of those mad, modern movies where the certification board slaps something on it based on the premise of the story rather than anything we actually see. So what you have marketed as a horror film is simply nothing of the sort. At best, it’s a slightly creepy thriller. At worst, it’s a dodgy television movie.

                        It’s incredibly predictable (and not just because anyone who’s seen the trailer knows exactly where it’s freaking going!). It’s like a routine. Girl arrives at house. House is marvellous, yet secluded (uh-oh, could that spell danger, do you think?) House is equipped with many marvellous gadgets, some of which are pointlessly introduced by vulnerable girl leaning on or tripping over them. Bottom line, us shrewd movie-goers simply know that they are introduced as a clue of things to come. A remote control, open-effect, but fake fire may not be the most desirable accessory in modern America but you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll come in handy later. Sheesh. Who do they think they’re entertaining, here?

                        Actually, I know the answer to this. 15 may be the certificate of the movie but it’s also the average age of the target audience and as such the film is filled with teenage delights such as mobile phones, girls that are just like so hot and jocks that are just so hotter. After a brief (and rather corny introduction) the depth of our leading characters slips down into Vicky Pollard territory. It transpires, you see, that one of them has kissed one of the others ones who’s supposed to be going out with someone else who turned out to be such a bitch and she looks fat in those jeans anyway and oh my god her hair is so fake and it is so unfair because he is like so hot and she is so not and anyway let’s get back to the story. If that kind of pointless teenaged drivel doesn’t do it for you, then When a Stranger Calls is clearly not going to hit the mark.

                        In true keeping with the (more tired end of the) genre, people do some really daft things too. Despite having a state of the art intruder alarm, monitored by a surveillance camera, the alarm gets activated and everyone seems to think it’s cool. Worse still, in spite of said security system, the cat seems to cause endless havoc (get ready to jump at the back) whilst the villain of the piece wanders round undetected. Somebody turns up to see our heroine and then runs into a spot of bother with a 1mm sapling on the road that somehow seems to block her passage out of there (like, whatever!) The corniest, most dreadfullest (don’t care if that’s not a real word) is the fact that to inject a bit of peril, our heroine doesn’t have problems with her mobile phone signal, but everyone else in the film does. Apart from the villain that is, because then he couldn’t really terrorise our heroine, could he?

                        Our heroine Jill is played by a typically untypical American teenager (Camilla Belle).It’s not that she’s that bad. It’s just that she’s not very good and placed only really because she looks quite pert, in a young teenaged girl kind of way. The villain of the piece is played by two people. His telephone voice is Lance Henriksen (lovely telephone manner) and his physical person is someone else (Tommy Flanagan) who clearly has anger management issues. It’s hard to decide whether Flanagan is much cop or not because he isn’t really in it long enough to make up your mind.

                        And that’s the killer blow. The film is so drawn out and so boring. It takes nearly 80% of the running time for Jill to fall deeper and deeper into peril and then finally the villain is exposed, with a bit of breakneck chasing around before it all draws to its inevitable conclusion. You won’t care what happens to Jill. You won’t care what happens to The Stranger. By then, you’ll just want the bloody thing to end. I know I did.

                        Favourite moment was “cat meet bird”.

                        (Favourite moment to be translated as only moment I actually liked just a little bit.)

                        Not recommended

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                      • Product Details

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