For anyone who wants to see a truly scary movie, one that will leave you shaking in your seat and hesitating before you go anywhere alone, Simon West's "When a Stranger Calls" probably isn't for you.
A remake of the 1979 film of the same name, the movie is based on that classic urban legend: A teenager is babysitting one night when she begins to receive mysterious phone calls from a stranger who tells her to "check on the children." As the night progresses and the calls continue, she phones the police, who soon inform her that the calls are coming from inside the house.
Jill Johnson (Camille Belle) plays a high school student baby sitting for a wealthy family. The kids are asleep by the time she gets to the house and she settles in for what seems to be a quiet evening. That is of course, until a series of eerie events begin to occur. First come the phone calls, then the alarm system is disarmed, the maid goes missing, etc. The tension culminates with Jill discovering she is trapped in the house with the mysterious caller who wants to kill her and the children.
The acting, while not terrible, is nothing superb. Camille Belle is the main character and most of the time the only character. She was a great horror movie victim in the sense that she did everything common sense would tell you not to do. But at times she comes across as very weak and somewhat irritating.
If you are not a big fan of slasher films filled with blood and guts, rest easy. You rarely see anything disturbing, save for a few dead bodies and minimal amounts of blood. The movie's ability to scare its audience rests largely on a buildup of psychological tension.
This tension will only be effective in the most jumpy moviegoer, and even they will only be temporarily frightened. There were definitely parts where I hid behind my hands, expecting the worst, only to be disappointed when the scene panned out and was not at all frightening. The scenes that produced a few screams from the audience were few and overall disappointing.
Still, the story line is just creepy enough to instill some unease in even the most cynical moviegoer. The movie wasn't terrible, but save yourself the $8.50 and rent it when it comes out on DVD. In fact, watching it when you're home alone might actually make it somewhat scary.
2 stars (out of 4)
Krystyna Hanley is a senior at Nardin.