When A Stranger Calls (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/05/2006

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 87 mins

Atmospheric but generally disappointing thriller, despite a passably tense climax and an eye-catching performance by newcomer Camilla Belle.

What’s it all about?
Newcomer Camilla Belle will be a lot more famous by the end of the year, thanks to a) her impressive eyebrows and b) her roles in The Ballad of Jack and Rose and the upcoming The Chumscrubber.

For now, however, she’s stuck playing ordinary teenager Jill Johnson, who agrees to baby-sit during a rainstorm at a remote lakeside house and then finds herself terrorised by a mysterious stranger.

The Good
It seems strange to commend a horror film on being essentially bloodless but the film’s opening scene pulls off the quaintly old-fashioned but nonetheless effective trick of portraying horror through an aging cop’s horrified reaction to a grisly crime scene (unseen by the audience).

In a period of gore-splattered films such as Hostel and The Hills Have Eyes, it’s actually something of a relief for all the deaths to occur off screen as they do here.

The Bad
Simon West isn’t the subtlest of directors (Tomb Raider, Con Air) and When A Stranger Calls (already a remake of a 1978 film) isn’t the subtlest of movies. West pulls out all the usual shock cliches but fails to do anything interesting with them.

There are also problems with pacing – the film takes ages to get going and then ends just as it’s getting decent. On top of that, it’s annoyingly overscored and it has a number of utterly pointless red herrings.

Worth seeing?
The film only really has three things in its favour: Belle’s performance, the creepy setting and a decent finale that’s both full of suspense and thrilling and rescues the film from one star ignominy. It’s just a shame the rest of the film couldn’t have been that good.

Film Trailer

When A Stranger Calls (15)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 03:21

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