Age restriction: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
1 pictures available.
To Jill Johnson, it was the perfect babysitting job. The parents were away. The fridge was stocked. The children were tucked into bed. But then the phone rings and an ominous voice asks, 'Have you checked the children?' Locked in with the lights out and the curtains drawn, a panicky Jill phones the police, who trace the calls ' only to inform her they're coming from inside the house. And as the frightened teenager goes upstairs to check on the children, Jill's quiet night of babysitting is about to turn into a nerve-shattering nightmare of suspense, horror and dread. The smartest thing about the remake of When a Stranger Calls is that it strips the original 1979 version to its bare essentials as a primal exercise in stormy-night terror. While taking the original film's suspenseful first act and expanding it into an 87-minute cat-and-mouse game, screenwriter Jake Wade Wall adds a few clever updates involving cellphones and home-security services, as well as the maze-like menace of a lavish modern home that serves as the setting for mayhem when cute teenager Jill (Camilla Belle, in the role originated by Carol Kane) takes on a babysitting job that she may live to regret. Someone is stalking her in the big, expensive glass palace that her employers call home (a splendid set designed by Jon Gary Steele), and that creepy voice on the phone (belonging to Lance Henriksen, master of doom-laden threat) should've been her first clue to grab the pair of terrified kids she's supposed to be protecting and leave the house ASAP. But no, the script, the overwrought score, and the uninspired direction of Simon West (Con-Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) insist that poor Jill be put through a Halloween-like night from hell, complete with a black cat as an omen of nasty things to come. Kudos to Wall and West for attempting to generate horror through suggestion (by keeping the homicidal stalker mostly off-screen), but let's face it: the original film is hardly a classic (its TV-movie sequel, When a Stranger Calls Back, is considerably better), and the remake takes too long to yield minimal rewards. Maybe Jill should've just unplugged the phone. --Jeff Shannon