Day #209: When a Stranger Calls (2009)


[From IMDb:] During an otherwise routine babysitting gig, a high-school student is harassed by an increasingly threatening prank caller.

My take:

What is it about babysitters that makes crazy/dangerous people want to kill them? Children and teenagers in general I get (I kiiiid), but there seems to be something about the American cultural psyche that just screams “DIE BABYSITTERS, DIE!!!”

That’s weird. You’re weird, America.

Anyway, it’s kind of funny that I never noticed before how paint-by-numbers When Strangers Calls is. Literally everything in the first 20-30 minutes of the movie is essentially about setting up a list of things that will become important later on. Jill (Camilla Belle) is a runner? Check. She has no credit? Check. No transport? Check. These buttons on the control do this? Check. Lights turn on and off when you enter/exit a room? Check. Check, check, check.

Much like the movie as a whole, Belle never quite manages to bring enough energy to her performance to impress. It’s like she’s watched other people act, and imitating them; much like the movie feels like it’s made by someone who’s watched enough horror movies to know what the mechanics are, but not enough to understand how to use those mechanics to their full effect.

It’s not a great movie, is what I’m saying.

That house, though?



Even if I have mixed feelings about how effective its sustainability features would be in real life (I did Urban Studies; I’m a nerd), I can’t deny that it makes for a freakin’ awesome set. So…pretty…


Normally, I’d be all over the soundtrack. I actually think it’s pretty cool – especially since it’s mostly (all?) orchestral music. But, in context, it just seems a bit too much; like, because the movie is so underwhelming in other respects, music that would otherwise work quite well just seems like too much.

Above anything else, I honestly wish they hadn’t spent 30 minutes of this movie on the phone calls. It was just too much – and considering the part of the movie that focuses on running away is, by far, the best part of the movie, it could’ve elevated its quality just by having more of that.

Oh well. The house is still pretty.


2 thoughts on “Day #209: When a Stranger Calls (2009)

  1. In a way I think the house is the main character of the movie, not the babysitter. This movie, in contrast with the original, places a LOT of focus on the house and uses it in its natural state to try and scare us. I am glad I watched this movie but I do not know that I ever have need to watch it again.


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