When A Stranger Calls (2006) Movie Review
Written By: LFG
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Simon West
Producers: John Davis, Wyck Godfrey, Ken Lemberger
Writer: Jake Wade Wall
Date Released: February 3, 2006
Camilla Belle as Jill Johnson
Tommy Flanagan as The Stranger
Lance Henriksen as The Stranger (Voice)
Brian Geraghty as Bobby
Katie Cassidy as Tiffany Madison
David Denman as Officer Burroughs
Derek de Lint as Dr. Mandrakis
Kate Jennings Grant as Kelly Mandrakis
Tessa Thompson as Scarlett
Madeline Carroll as Allison Mandrakis
Rating = 2.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) is a high school girl who, after maxing out her cellphone line’s credits, decides to babysit for the Mandrakis family to earn extra money. Upon arriving at the extravagant family home, she receives instructions from the Mandrakis couple that they will be back by midnight and that the kids are already asleep, so she should just make herself at home. It seemed like it was going to be an uneventful night of babysitting until she starts to receive weird anonymous phone calls from someone who only listens to her voice before hanging up. Jill confronts her friends, believing they were pranking her, but they were quick to deny this. After a while, one of Jill’s friends, Tiffany (Katie Cassidy), drops by but is quickly asked to leave as Jill didn’t want to cause any trouble. However, on her way back to her car, Tiffany is attacked out of the blue. The night turns stranger by the second as Jill continues to receive more anonymous calls, growing more intense and threatening each time. Jill finds out that the calls were coming from inside the house all along, so she races against time to take the Mandrakis children to safety and escape alive from the cat-and-mouse game with the serial killer (Tommy Flanagan) before it’s too late.
This is not the typical slasher film as there are only a few brief scenes that showed actual stabbing or impaling. There was only a bit of blood, and these were only shown once a dead body is found.
The Grave Review
When A Stranger Calls (2006) is a remake of the classic 1979 film with the same title, so viewers cannot help but compare this to the original. As mentioned previously, this is not the typical slasher film—the film does not show how the victims were killed onscreen nor does it show the killer’s face (except in the ending). The plot also focuses on one character who is alone in a big house with a killer lurking around unknowingly, and this is what makes the film terrifying.
Character-wise, they could have picked someone better to play Jill. Camilla Belle looked the part of a typical school girl, but her acting was bland and lacked emotion. And this is unfortunate since she is the main character—what she does and how she reacts to everything is the focal point of the film. One of the few scenes where she stood out was when she was in the greenhouse hiding in the pond while the killer looked for her. It was intense and thrilling especially when she found the housekeeper’s dead body underwater.
The final standoff between Jill and the killer was nothing extraordinary, which is a let down considering the way the film was building up toward this moment. In a way though, it still works since this approach is much more realistic. Jill is just a high school girl and can’t really do much except run and hide. She did give a fair fight for her life, but the scene ended rather quickly. The final scene in the hospital where Jill hallucinates was also effective in showcasing how extensive her PTSD was.
What makes this film horrific is the fact that it hits so close to home—this can happen to anyone, at any time. Home invasion is already scary in itself, how much more if the one doing so is a psycho killer? Overall, this is a fairly good watch, and while it’s not perfect, it is still enjoyable. This will give anyone the creeps throughout and even after the film. Also, since this is not gory, this can be enjoyed by a wider age range of audiences.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives When A Stranger Calls (2006) two and one-half graves out of five graves.
Do you agree with our review? Comment below.