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When a Stranger Calls Back Reviews

Page 1 of 11
Adam M

Super Reviewer

December 15, 2009
I saw this on YouTube after I read that somehow the director built an opening sequence that lived up to the original's. And it's true. The first 15 minutes or so are expertly crafted -- and the victim is as smart as possible in conversation with an unseen Big Bad Wolf.

For the rest of the movie, the director keeps up his method of using longer takes with silence and darkly lit, deep compositions to increase tension. Our eyes go searching for spaces and moments where the generic scare might leap out at us. For the most part, he keeps us tense and guessing in the shadows. It's a unique gift he deserves credit for.

The plot investigates the events of the opening sequences, and perhaps spoils it a bit with strained rationalizations. Kane and Durning are great, and great together, but parts of the script just don't make it. Nothing in the movie compares well next to the dread of the beginning, except maybe two weird scenes. In one, the killer starts rapping the tummy of someone who doesn't want to play anymore and in the other, he does an uncomfortable stage act and then camouflages himself in an alley.
Cassandra M

Super Reviewer

November 24, 2007
Campolongo more or less says it all. Tension is kept tight throughout, Walton really knows how to squeeze every once of suspense out of these kind of films. There's a few great twists (one of the main characters is knocked out of the action half way through). Nice to see the original stars once again especially Carol Kane who gives it her best & wont take any of this "Shes just a mixed up kid" crap from the cops. Wipes the floor with the first one which people really only remember when you quote the line "The calls are coming from inside the house!"
Lafe F

Super Reviewer

June 26, 2007
A great made-for-TV movie which doesn't suck! Perhaps better than the original film, because this has horror and stalking scenes throughout. The opening scene is chilling and superbly written.

It begins with a young babysitter alone in a big house, and some guy banging on the front door, saying his car had problems and he needs to come in and use the phone, but then freaky things start to happen from there. The killer torments the girl throughout the course of the movie.

Offering assistance are the experienced cop (Charles Durning) and the post-trauma babysitter (Carole Kane), both from the first "When A Stranger Calls" film. They investigate the alleged stalkings, and help track down the spooky dude, who has some crafty voice-throwing and concealment skills, making him harder to catch. I liked the weird scene in the bar with the ventriloquist act. The end battle is unbelievable in what the killer does.

The first film will always be considered a classic, but had a flawed middle act. This one is more consistently scary throughout, though largely overlooked.

Super Reviewer

April 26, 2007
This was kind of a disappointment because it started off so well. The opening is more tense than the original, using yet another urban legend to set it up, but goes quickly downhill soon thereafter, ironically when Jill and Clifford return from the original. There's no character development here, and little to no reference to the events of the first film - where are Jill's husband and kids, for starters? It should have been so much better.

Super Reviewer

July 16, 2007
Outstanding creepy opening and the rest of the movie is In a some way better than the original.

Super Reviewer

June 11, 2007
I purchased this bastard against my better judgement, as the back of the box helpfully explained the transfer was 1:33:1. Since i knew the film had been made for tv and my online research revealed no widescreen edition avaliable, I gambled that perhaps 4:3 was its original aspect ratio. As soon as I popped it in though, and the infamous "this film has been formatted from its original version to fit your screen" message reared its ugly head, I knew I had been fucked.

Right from the start, the film toys with your expectations. An early phone call to a babysitter leads to nothing, and it turns out we can't even hear what is said on the other end of the line. Not long after, there is a knock on the door, and a young man claiming his car broke down begs to use the phone. The babysitter, sensibly, does not let him in and so the opening sequence is established. If you've seen the original, the film continues to use your knowledge against you. Events from the first part are tweaked and the result is that the film is enhanced by experiencing Stranger 1 rather than diminished.

Well directed though the opening is, there are problems with it, and they are only magnified as the film goes on. The original was a very plausible thriller, this one is much more typical horror fare, where a stalker goes through an inhuman ammount of trouble to mortify a young girl. It is no more plausible than a typical genre production. Nowhere is this more evident than in the ending. It is undeniably a creepy image (you'll know it if you see it) but the ammount of trouble it would take to generate is indescribable. This guy has a seriously skewed cost-reward system.

Carol Kane returns and her performance is, once again, fantastic. Her character here is much older, harsher, working at a women's crisis center. She sells every nuance of her character. Charles Durning returns as well, though his presence is simply an excuse the writer gives himself to keep the police from being involved.

Our stalker here, because of his line of work, has some intriguing abilities which he puts to good use. The problem is that the idea of someone from his line of work behaving as he does (something about it just seems so...hillarious) is so ridiculous that it takes away from the tension.

If the writing is sloppy (and at times just plain bad) and the direction (surprisingly) uneven, the film does have a few highlights. A hospital visit from our boy is very unnerving, the opening has its moments as does the finale. They are not enough for me to fully recommend the film, but it is much smarter than it would first appear. Particularly for a made-for-tv production.
November 26, 2008
Definitely not as good as the original...But The killer in here is quite different, that's all I can say.
September 12, 2007
this movie creeped me out. especially the ending where he like opens his eyes and you realize he has painted himself to match the
September 19, 2006
The only to see this sequel is the always wonderful work of Jill Schoelen. Man, I miss seeing her in these crappy horror films.
July 9, 2006
This one is just as good as the first. Awesome can't be missed scene at the end involving the killer painting himself to look like the wall. Creepy and look-over-your-shoulder suspense!
March 3, 2013
The original is only slightly better than this awesome sequel! Once again the movie starts and ends great with a little dragging through the middle.
February 4, 2012
This was a good flick thats much better than the original. With lead actress Jill Schoelen is what makes the film fun.
June 9, 2012
TV MOVIE. Above average sequel to When a Stranger Calls. Atmospheric and eerie. SHOWTIME 4/4/1993
October 15, 2011
I have seen this film and it kept me on the edge of my chair...IS good.
May 2, 2011
I saw the remake, original and now I watched the sequel.

What I did like. The beginning scene is very creepy. This first scene defiantly made the movie for me. It was better then the first movie's opening scene. Also I really liked the "stranger" person in this one. He was creepier than the last person. He had a friendly voice but after awhile it got very scary. He was very different and complex which I liked. The movie totally plays with your paranoia. The ending was also very creepy too and scary. I also liked that they were able to bring in the other two characters from the first film in. So I was a little surprised of this film even though it wasn't the best.

What I didn't like. So one HUGE problem I had with movie is that there was no calling at all. The most he did with phones was disconnect them. There was also some plot holes with the very end, but I can't say them without giving it away. Also with the beginning and end being great the middle was quite boring like the first movie... which made it hard to watch.

Overall the movie was just as good as the first to me.
Matt F.
May 11, 2010
This movie is almost as good as the first, well worth watching
January 11, 2010
I love this movie. Its so creepy! I caught the end on tv when I was a teenager and had to find it on video. So good. totally plays on your paranoia. It's also an empowering chick flick at the same time.
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