DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Film Review: When A Stranger Calls

"Phoning the Samaritans is more fun!"

When A Stranger Calls (15)
Dir. Simon West

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Alas this was not as I first thought a good-natured warning documentary about the dangers of unannounced cold callers selling cleaning products or wanting to talk to you about the afterlife. Oh no this is a flashy and completely vapid remake of the much better ‘babysitter terrorised by crank calling maniac’ from the ‘70s of the same name.
Simon ‘Tomb Raider’ West directs and I don’t care if he was born just down the road in Letchworth, he proves here once again that he can’t deliver a film really worthy of anyone’s time or the obvious money poured into it.
Now I might be going out on a limb, but if you choose to see a horror film, I don’t think it’s too much ask that it at least tries to be scary and / or a bit grim. When A Stranger Calls fails on both counts – even the immortal line when the police tell the babysitter: "we've just traced the call...its coming from inside the house!" brought a resigned ‘Hhmmpphh’ from the audience rather than any yelps of terror. As for grimness, the Stranger starts out promisingly by having previously torn a babysitter and her charges apart with his bare hands. But when he’s finally used up all his prepaid credit on crank calls and has to turn up and do his menacing in person, he is absolutely pathetic. In fact I kind of felt a bit sorry for him (played by Tommy ‘Sin City’ Flanagan – see now you know his name he’s not even so much of a stranger anyway) as his master plan to add another babysitter to his list of kills is thwarted easily by such a young unarmed teenager. Ah well, at least you can play the semi fun game of ‘which minor character will get killed?’ but even this is painfully obvious – see that bitchy blonde friend with ‘kill me’ on her back? Want to hazard a guess yet?
OK so Camilla ‘Jurassic Park 2’ Belle is cute as the babysitter who attracts the stranger’s twisted attentions but she has very little to do except creep nervously along shadowy corridors, occasionally answer the phone and look worried.
Yes the visuals are reasonably slick but they can’t redeem this terminally boring waste of time. You know kids your parents were right when they told you "Just say ‘no’ to strangers"…

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ö - weak and surprisingly dull
Laughs öö - I do find crank calls funny
Horror öö - way below minimum required for a 'horror film'
Babes ööö - Camilla Belle is pretty cute

Overall öö

"Hey, this is the women's showers..."

Darkmatters: H O M E

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