When a Stranger Calls (2006):Agonisingly Slow

Cover of "When a Stranger Calls"
Cover of When a Stranger Calls

I remember seeing the original of this film, the 1979 one with Carol Kane as part of one of those Drive-in Special features where you got three films for the price of one. Not too different from the $1.00 a car night where no matter how many hot and sweaty bodies you crammed in the car, it only cost a buck.

I say not too different because the concept was the same, you got two films that were kind of crap and one  “big” feature. If memory serves me correctly, the 1979 When a Stranger Calls was not the main feature, something else was and it wasn’t as good as the Carol Kane film, which scared the crap out of everyone in the car.

The whole premise came about because of an urban legend. I still remember it making the rounds ages before the film came out. It was, funnily enough a girl who was about 3 to 4 years younger than me (who had an embarrassing crush on me, if I’d only known how she was going to be when she grew up, I wouldn’t have been so embarrassed…I know, shallow; uh-huh) who was going to be doing her first professional baby sitting job.

We’d just finished messing around (With a Ouija board! Get your mind out of the  gutter!) when she relayed to me in a kind of breathless yet horrified way the story as she’d heard it.

“This girl? Well, she goes to baby sit these twin boys…or girls…I don’t remember which and she starts getting phone calls. Which she isn’t supposed to get cos she’s meant to be babysitting, right? So this guy keeps asking her if she’s checked the kids. So she keeps checking on them and when she gets tired of this whole rigamarole, she calls the cops. They then put a tracer on her phone and then they call her and say get out of the house! He’s upstairs!”

Incredibly, everyone believed this particular boogeyman story, as folks were just getting into having separate phone lines put in for their kids to have their own phones, so it sort of made sense. Of course it was easier in the days before the internet to spread those kind of urban myths because it was a lot harder to check up.

Presumably the film makers who decided to make the remake thought, quite rightly, that cell phones (or mobiles over  here) could facilitate the plot just as well.

Unfortunately the film moves at a snails pace and no one ever explained to the director that suspense that drags on too long becomes tedious and then boring. The addition of loveable Clark Gregg (aka Agent Coulson from S.H.I.E.L.D.) in a minute part as the babysitter’s pop, could not save this yawn fest from dragging on and on and on and on….

Camilla Belle is too stunningly attractive to be a real teenage babysitter in the real world and although her performance convinced me that she was about to have a major league panic attack or heart attack, the films agonisingly slow, almost backward, pace wouldn’t let me care.

So, as this is on Netflix right now (in the Uk anyway) and  if you’re having trouble sleeping, pop this puppy on and you’ll doze right off.

A 2 out of 5 stars only because. dammit, Belle is gorgeous and hey, it’s got Agent Coulson in it.

Phil Coulson
Phil Coulson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

5 thoughts on “When a Stranger Calls (2006):Agonisingly Slow”

  1. To me, the first thirty or so minutes and the last thirty or so minutes of the original are scary as hell and the middle drags horribly. Having also seen the remake it would seem to me that it took it’s inspiration from the middle of the original. I really need to get back to reviewing; I’ve just been so busy and have had no motivation.Great review, Mike!!


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