When a Stranger Calls

Bomb Rating: 

In every horror film worth its salt in which a woman is threatened by some unseen male psychopath, it's important and meaningful that the woman go take a shower. As everyone knows, lather is comforting and wards off crazies.

This is yet another in a series of PG-13 rated horror films that's missing everything necessary to make a horror film tolerable: gore, nudity and an R rating. In every horror film worth its salt in which a woman is threatened by some unseen male psychopath, it's important and meaningful that the woman go take a shower. As everyone knows, lather is comforting and wards off crazies.

This is also another film that's a remake of a film that was itself bad. I'm guessing that director Simon ("Con Air") West figured he couldn't do any worse than the 1979 original starring Carol Kane. Guess what? Simon West is such a hack that he has indeed made a worse film, which is an achievement he should consider an embarrassment so severe that it compels him to move out of the country and have plastic surgery to prevent anyone from ever recognizing him.

So here's the deal: Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) goes to babysit in this house out in the middle of nowhere. She gets a series of prank phone calls which eventually turn into calls from some guy who's actually inside the house stalking her.

Jill is supposed to be babysitting the owners' two children, but they have the flu and have gone to bed around 5pm and remain sleeping the entire time. As an obviously annoyed young babysitter pointed out on IMDB, this is the biggest fantasy of all. Kids don't go to sleep at 5pm, flu or not.

There are myriad things wrong with this whole scenario. First of all, stop answering the phone. If it keeps ringing and nobody answers when you say hello and this happens over and over again, just stop picking it up. Secondly, what about caller ID? Who answers a call from somebody not recognizable? Thirdly, if the guy is already in the house, what's the purpose of calling? Just wait until Jill takes a shower and then go kill her. Why call her? Fourthly, who the hell has a land line anymore? And why is Jill picking up the house phone and not her own? Fifthly, what good is a home alarm system if people are walking in and out of the place like it's a bordello? Sixthly, the owners have a maid who's actually at home. Why can't she watch the kids? Christ, they're asleep anyway. I guess the rationale is that it's just not as fun watching a middle-aged Mexican maid answering the phone.

If there's a star of this movie, it's probably the house, which is full of more glass than Gerry Cooney's jaw. This doesn't exactly mesh with the Colorado wilderness in which the movie is set, but since the occupants are apparently loaded, I suppose their insane heating bills aren't an issue.

Not surprisingly, this movie finished #1 at the box office last weekend. God help us all if this is how starved we are for horror films. Apparently, people will pay to see anything.

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