When a Stranger Calls (2006)


Directed by: Simon West

Written by: Jake Wade Wall


Camilla Belle .... Jill Johnson
Tommy Flanagan .... Stranger
Katie Cassidy .... Tiffany
David Denman .... Officer Burroughs

Special Appearance:

Lance Henriksen .... Stranger (voice)

Release Date: Theatrical: February 3, 2005





A teenage girl named Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) is trying to break up with her old boyfriend Bobby (Brian Geraghty) and to carry on with her life. She gets a babysitting gig while two wealthy parents are away on business. She knows the security code to keep the doors locked at all times and has a neighbor to make sure things are okay so feels that she's safe. She gets a couple calls from her friends as they are at a bonfire while she is stuck babysitting but then she is getting a creepy phone call from a strange man (Tommy Flanagan) breathing heavily into the phone asking her strange questions. Her friend Tiffany (Katie Cassidy) pops by surprisingly to pay her a quick visit as she tells Jill that the garage door was left open. This spooks Jill as she was sure that everything was locked. When Scarlet leaves to go into her car she hears some strange sounds and suspect that someone is watching her. Meanwhile Jill still gets the prank phone calls from the strange man as she knows that he is watching every move she makes.


There's some cheesy settings on a house with a voice over on a babysitter receiving the calls from the killer as this didn't seem convincing at all as well as a shot on a carnival next to the home which explains as to how no one would hear this babysitter scream while being murdered. It needed a bit more inspiration than what we see on the picture here.
We have some dull situations with the lead character Jill Johnson at school along with trying to brush off her ex boyfriend and her issues with the girl named Tiffany but yet while watching these bland situations it seems to come into the plot later on while we continue to watch all of this.
Then when we spot Tiffany in the car with her Dad driving up to the house in an isolated area by a lake it for sure looked pretty spooky and a great setting for what the terror will become later on in the night. This looked well done without a doubt. There is the odd cristicism here as it's still early in the evening as you could tell and the parents said the children are already asleep which seenms to be an odd curfew even for the real young here.
We do spot a nice close up camera shot on the phone as well as Jill answering it as this gives you the chills a little bit suspecting that it's not your every day caller.
There's also a moment when she browses around the home with good dark camera shots on all of this as well as her trying jewelry and then spots a figure walking by outside as this for sure looked spooky along with her thinking it's the parents returning for something and she panicks to try and put everything away as this gives you a total feeling on being caught doing something you're not allowed to do.
Plus we spot a situation when she looks out the window and suddenly a noise of sprinkler's shoot off which is a nice jumping moment in this flick since things are suddenly silent.
Plus there's a perfect creeping up moment with Tiffany entering the home in which this for sure looked well done along with her telling Jill that the garage door was left open in which gives you the chills that the killer could have found his way into the home for sure.
Plus there's a good banging on the door with Jill answering and no one is there as this is often used in those mysterious horror flicks and it works perfectly every time and can give you nightmares for sure.
Plus we have some good takes on Tiffany trying to get to her car with the trees blowing in the wind as well as hearing some strange sounds in which this looked pretty spooky while watching all of this along with other situations on her trying to find a way of leaving making you think that the killer is watching her for sure. These moments definetely keep in terror and suspense by how this was all done.
Plus we have the eerie phone call with this stranger asking Jill if she's checked on the children. This for sure makes the feeling incredibly creepy being alone in the home as well as her checking in their room in which the settings looked good and peaceful on them sleeping as this moment was well done and looked pretty realistic here. Also a perfect moment when the stranger calls back asking her how they are with her freaking out by closing the drapes of the windows in the home and calling the police about it as you know this caller is watching her. It definetely makes anyone who's inm a strange house alone the creeps on all of this.
There's a great moment on the smaller house across with the light turned on and she goes to check in on who's there which is also a great spooky moment too. Plus she finds the phone ringing with the stranger talking to her and then spots a light turning on in the big house on the top floor as this seemed to be nicely put in showing that she isn't alone. Certainly draws some great mysterious moments here.
Plus she does a nice job using her cell phone to call the supposed maid that works there and hearing the ring coming from another room and continues to do so with nice shots on her slowly walking the halls to track the ringing and where it's coming from as this looked pretty spooky and cleverly well done too.
Then we have the most memorable scene when the stranger calls and she tries to keep him on the line for a minute so the police can track the call and we hear heaving breathing on the other end which sounded perfect and darkly done as well as her asking this caller what he wants and tells her the answer which is very freaky and of course this one liner was used in the opriginal flick too since it worked perfectly well. Plus it's even more terrifying when the police calls her and tells her where the calls are coming from as this keeps you on the edge of your seat.
We also spot great suspenseful and struggling shots with Jill trying to escape from the killer as well as shot closing in shots on her running away and hiding too which was nicely put into the story here and making you wonder if she will manage to escape.
Then we have a perfect ending scene with Jill in a hospital bed and hearing a phone ringing as well as walking out the the hospital hallway and it's deserted as this gives you a clue that the nightmare isn't over yet. Another brilliant scene here.
Bottom line is that I have never seen a movie this scary in a long time especially coming from a remake. It's scarier than Scream trust me as the phone calls and in those ones were trying to be scary but it was too hokey. This one is far from it as it's really dark and creepy. Believe it or not I liked this one better than the original as it focuses on the babysitting scene all the way through compared to the original. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat as you expect when the phone rings that it's either the parent checking up on things or one of her friends which shows that too but then it's a stranger with a creepy voice. I think this is where R.L. Stine got his idea in the original for his 4 part young adult novels titled The Babysitter.

The acting is great. When I saw the acting it reminded me of those older horror films as I like that kind of style. Camilla Belle (Jill Johnson) does well as the babysitter and her reactions to the phone calls are very effective. She does a nice job in the beginning of the film when she shows her disappointing expressions during school and having a perfect brush off type of attitude too. She does a good job with her curiousity as this comes off very natural. Plus does a great job with her scared emtions while talking on the phone and getting anxious on stuff when she is talking to the police. She shows off a nice intense screaming and struggling behvior a quarter way through the film as she really brings this to life big time. She rolls with the punches by playing this type of role too which was great to watch all the way through.
Tommy Flanagan (The Stranger) is only seen in the dark alot of the times but yet certainly knows on how to make his appereance come to life in a terrifying fashion as he shows perfect energy running and trying to grab someone in which this all looked dynamic coming from him big time. He's great crashing through and acting brutal with his blocking.
Katie Cassidy (Tiffany) seemed to show a nice bubbly type of personality here along with showing a friendly type of charm to her part as this shines off perfectly. Plus she does a good job while goofing around and trying to act light headed on things. Plus shows some decent energy while stressing something on a problem. She shows a great amount of adrenaline when she is spooked outside trying to get to her car as well as hacving a great spooked high intense reaction with all that's surrounding her as she makes this come to life big time.
David Denman (Officer Burroughs) was mostly heard with his voice on the phone but appears near the end of the film. Yet I thought that he was worth mentioning. He seemed to have a great outgoing and friendliness with the way he spoke in which he brought this to life as a good reassuring officer here. Also he does well in the beginning and the end with how he reacts to the situations that have happened. He certainly studied this part perfectly well here and had an effective supporting role.

Alot of perfect hissing and sighing type of effects as well as windy sounds which makes the still moments seem perfectly creepy. Also there's the echoey piano playing as this brings a nice touch of peacefulness too. Plus we hear rusty sounds making the moments very dark and gloomy too. There's some good long sounding violin music as well as the screeching and quick paced music too. This sounded fairly okay but yet we've heard this type of stuff many times. Yet we hear the nice banging sounds as well as the heavy fast drum beats for the running sequences as this was solidly put in. All of the music was put together by Jim Dooley.

Jill Johnson: Tiffany, I know it's you. I can see your name on Caller ID, genius.
Voice of the Stranger: This isn't Tiffany.
Jill Johnson: Who is this?
Voice of the Stranger: [pause] Who is this?
Jill Johnson: Cody?
Voice of the Stranger: Who's Cody?
Jill Johnson: You better cut this out!
[stranger hangs up]

Officer Burroughs: Has he been using threatening language?
Jill Johnson: No, sometimes he doesn't even say anything, he just keeps on calling.

Jill Johnson: [phone rings] Hello?
[no answer]
Jill Johnson: [sighs] Mandrakis Residence.
Voice of the Stranger: Have you checked the children?
Jill Johnson: What
[stranger hangs up. Jill runs and checks on the children. Comes Back downstairs]
Jill Johnson: [phone rings] Hello?
Voice of the Stranger: [pauses] How were the children?

Jill Johnson: He can see me!
Officer Burroughs: Sorry?
Jill Johnson: It's Jill, the girl who called before about the man who keeps on calling.
Officer Burroughs: What's going on?
Jill Johnson: He called me again.
Officer Burroughs: What did he say?
Jill Johnson: He's out there, he's outside, he's watching me through the windows.
Officer Burroughs: Did you see him?
Jill Johnson: No, but I know he can see me, because I went upstairs..
Officer Burroughs: Okay, take a deep breath, where's the house keeper?
Jill Johnson: I don't know, I saw her purse and the keys but I can't find her.
Officer Burroughs: The house locked up?
Jill Johnson: Yes.
Officer Burroughs: Alarm system?
Jill Johnson: It's on.
Officer Burroughs: Okay, you're safe inside that house. If he wanted to break in, he wouldn't be calling.
Jill Johnson: But he must want something!
Officer Burroughs: Listen to me, Miss, it's just some asshole trying to hassle you.

Officer Burroughs: Do you have any friends that can come stay with you?
Jill Johnson: They're all at the bonfire.

Jill Johnson: [On phone] You really scared me, if that's what you wanted. Is that what you wanted?
Voice of the Stranger: No.
Jill Johnson: What do you want?
Voice of the Stranger: Your blood all over me.

Jill Johnson: [phone rings]
Jill Johnson: Stop calling me you sick...
Officer Burroughs: Jill, Jill. We traced the call! It's coming from inside the house! Do you hear me? It's coming from inside the house! You need to get out! Jill?
[power goes out]

Jill Johnson: Where is he?
Officer Burroughs: We got him. He's in that police car right over there. In ankle cuffs, handcuffs. Enought sedatives to kill a horse. We're gonna take him to the hospital. We'll have four cops guarding him around the clock.
Jill Johnson: That's not enough.