When a Stranger Calls (2006)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Slasher Film, Teen Movie  |   Release Date - Feb 3, 2006 (USA)  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Jeremy Wheeler

Targeted directly at the teen babysitting crowd, When a Stranger Calls is a bloodless exercise in watery tension that is safe enough to appeal to its young audience, even if it falls short of the original's impact. Comparisons of the two films actually uncover a surprising reverence for the original that is rare in modern-day remakes as the new film blatantly lifts exact lines and scare tactics directly from the 1979 shocker time and again. The problem is that this picture basically tries to stretch what was 15 minutes of terror into a 90-minute feature. What's even worse is that the movie almost pulls it off. The new remote setting puts an imaginative spin on the scenario, complete with a "smart house" that comes furnished with motion detector lights in every room and expansive, voyeuristic windows that would indeed make for perfect thriller devices. Sadly, director Simon West never utilizes them to their full advantage. The premise hinges on playing off of the audience's fears, but instead the filmmakers fall back on this never-ending cat-and-mouse shtick that has no payoff. Sure, there is a final confrontation, but never does the picture unnerve its audience into thinking that the killer is as disturbed as the movie sets him up to be. While the original is severely flawed in its own right, it managed to frighten enough moviegoers to place it in the public consciousness for years to come. As it is now, teens that see this Stranger will probably be more scared of their cell phone bill than this entirely forgettable flick.