U.S. Theatrical Release Date: February 3, 2006
U.S. DVD Release Date: May 16, 2006
Tagline: "Evil Hits Home".
Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle ~ 'The Ballad of Jack and Rose'
) is a typical American girl with typical American dreams. However, those idyllic dreams appear to be far from coming to fruition at this current point in her life.
Jill has been grounded by her father for a month, is not allowed to use the family car and is forbidden to use her cell phone because she has exceeded her monthly minutes plan by 800 minutes! (Hey, that's only 13 1/2 hours over. What's the big deal?). In addition, Jill has recently caught her boyfriend Bobby (Brian Geraghty ~ 'Jarhead'
) kissing her best friend.
But wait, there's more! Jill is forced by her father to take a babysitting gig to earn some of the money needed to pay her parents back. But taking the job means that she will have to miss her high school class' 'big bonfire party' that same evening. Life can be so
There could be (and certainly are) far worse environments to have to babysit in. Fortunately, Jills gig is in the ultra-posh, tricked-out residence of Dr. and Mrs. Mandrakis, a fantastic multi-level home, replete with an avian enclosure and koi-pond, nestled in a forest by a lake high in the Colorado mountains, 100 plus miles from where Jill's suburban drama plays out daily.
Jill is driven by her father (Clark Gregg) to the Mandrakis' estate and the obligatory introductions and instructions are exchanged. The housekeeper, Rosa, and the family's black cat are present and Jill is relieved to learn that the Mandrakis' two children are already upstairs and asleep in their beds. With a'state-of-the-art' entertainment center, fully stocked refrigerator and high-tech security system in the home, this evening should pass by quickly and pleasantly even though it is very stormy outside.
It is shortly after the Mandrakis' depart that a series of perplexing telephone calls to the residence begin. The calls are non-threatening at first, but eventually increase in frequency and their ominous tone. The caller (creepily voiced by Lance Henriksen ~ 'Aliens'
) repeatedly asks Jill "Have you checked on the children?". After she eventually confronts the caller, by firmly stating "What do you want?", the anonymous voice replies "Your blood all over me!".
Jill calls the police and frantically describes to Officer Burroughs (David Denman ~ 'Big Fish'
) about how she is being telephonically menaced. Officer Burroughs states that the department will monitor the calls to the home, but Jill needs to keep the caller engaged for at least sixty seconds, so that they will have an opportunity to trace the line. She succeeds in doing so, and this is when it is revealed that "The calls are coming from inside the house!".
The DVD is presented in 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen Format with English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital sound with optional English and French subtitles, as well as English Closed Captioning.
Special Features include:
- 'Deleted Scenes'
- 'Director and Cast Commentary'
- 'The Making of "When a Stranger Calls" Featurette'
- 'Writers Commentary'
The opening sequence is stylish and unsettling, and the final fifteen minutes are an intense game of 'cat and mouse' as Jill tries to save herself and the children, and the authorities race to the residence to stop an obvious madman.
Director Simon West, best known for loud, splashy productions ('Con Air'
) takes a decidedly low-key approach to this subject matter, which basically consists of taking the first ten truly terrifying minutes of the 1979 original and extending it into an indolent, tedious exercise in stagnation. The audience watches as Jill becomes gradually and slowly unnerved, and they wait for the next baneful phone call. And they watch. And they wait. And they watch. And they wait. The 'big finish' is anything but one, and the result is wholly unsatisfying with many questions left unanswered.
The only thing that is for certain, we all know it could not have been the cat!
Ultimately when this
stranger calls, don't answer. That is unless you have insomnia and are sorely, sorely in need of sleep.
Rating: 1 1/2 'heavy breathing crank callers' out of 5.
TITLE: 'When a Stranger Calls (2006)' ~ STUDIO: Screen Gems ~ MPAA RATING: PG13 - For Intense Terror, Violence and Some Language ~ RUNNING TIME: 87 Minutes ~ STARRING: Camilla Belle, Brian Geraghty, Clark Gregg, David Denman ~ DIRECTED BY: Simon West
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