Wednesday, 10 September 2008

No.66 : When A Stranger Calls

IMDb Link :

This 2006 film is a remake of the 1979 slasher horror of the same name. The story is a familiar one, and even if you haven’t seen the original I’m sure that you’re familiar with the urban legend that contains all the plot key points.

Young Jill is having a hard time of it. Her boyfriend has been snogging her best friend and her authoritarian dad has stopped her going to the school bon fire night for running up a huge mobile phone bill. She reluctantly takes a baby sitting job for a rich doctor and her dad drops her off at their palatial home.

After the usual routine of going through the closets and grazing at the refrigerator she settles down for the evening. Her peace is however soon interrupted by a deluge of calls from her friends, a prankster from school and a heavy breather. Understandably nervous she sets the alarm and does a quick sweep of the house armed with a poker.

Nothing shows up, but the calls become more frequent and personal. Soon it is apparent that she’s being watched and the police are of little help. Things soon escalate and the police eventually manage to trace the call - “he’s in the house”. You can’t call that a spoiler as it was the most predictable thing since day followed night. With half an hour to go Jill has to scoop up her young charges and stay one step ahead of the psycho, who may already have a few notches on his axe handle.

This is a desperate effort, with absolutely nothing to recommend it. There are no surprises, grisly killings or even scenes of teenagers having sex. I have no idea who it was aimed at because it ticked none of the teen horror boxes. There are only two deaths in the whole thing and both of them happen off camera, with our only becoming aware of them when Jill finds their totally unhacked bodies whilst fleeing.

It is also very annoying, with at least five ‘false frights’ where we get a jump but no; it’s the cat, it’s the sprinklers, it’s the wind, it’s the cat again. In the original ‘Friday the 13th’ series this tactic was employed effectively and sparingly. Here you get nothing but false starts. You also get about 40 phone calls for your money. Really, sometimes they are stacked on top of each other with dull call following dull call - it was like watching a surveillance tape of a call centre.

The lead does OK with her limited material, but she has no chance of rescuing a film so devoid of ideas that you’d have more fun watching a blank E180 for three hours.

When things eventually kick off all the clich├ęs are in place, from shutting the door - ooh there he is, to the hit him once and run away - don’t smash his unconscious face in or anything.

Without doubt this is the worst film on the list to date, and if you have the chance to see it or go on a psycho plagued babysitting gig, choose the later, it will be the least painful of the two.

Best Bit : End credits could not have been more welcome.

‘W’ rating 3/23

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