When a Stranger Calls - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

When a Stranger Calls Reviews

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½ August 20, 2017
Critics average 3.2 out of 10 . These critics are way off base and do not like the horror genre . Camilla Belle is a young beautiful actress that draws my focus in on her dire situation . I found the film very entertaining .
½ July 25, 2017
There are two ways this film can be rated: on it's own or compared to
the original. Whether you have seen the original version of this film
(1979) or not, makes a big difference on the way you see this version
of the film. For that reason, I will rank the film in both ways:

(1.) On It's Own (If you had never seen the original):

Acting: 16/20 Writing: 30/40 Directing/Editing/Production/Etc: 34/40

Overall: 80/100 B-

Review: Almost the entire film revolves around the babysitter, which
means Camilla Belle takes the brunt of the acting in this movie. She's
not a bad actress nor an outstanding one and did a pretty solid job.
She was pretty believable in her role but she didn't do anything
special with it. The most important thing I can say about her
performance is that while it didn't add anything special to the film,
it also didn't take any value or integrity away from it.

She did have a supporting cast but I doubt that any other character
(aside from the Stranger/Caller) was in the film for more than 5
minutes total. All of the supporting cast had similar performances,
credible and loyal to their roles.

The plot of the script is very accurate to the most common versions of
the legend and does a great job turning that "short story" into a
full-length movie, without losing any of the suspense. That being said,
there wasn't too much creativity in the script, as most of it does come
straight from the legend.

The flow and pacing of the film go well with the overall suspense in
the movie. The soundtrack was like the acting - appropriate but not
outstanding.

*Spoiler Alert!*

The beginning is pretty forgettable, as it's only loosely connected to
the overall plot and somewhat confusing. This "creative writing" didn't
really pay off. By contrast, the ending is very unforgettable however,
and leaves the right impression at the end of a horror film.

This film did have an interesting under-current of "female
competitiveness", which was pretty interesting and entertaining, such
as the babysitter dealing with her "party-girl" friend trying to steal
her boyfriend and Mrs. Mandrakis making a comment about her kids
compared to the kids that Jill usually babysits for.

*End of Spoiler Alert!*

Overall this film was a good Hollywood-stylized take on the now- famous
"babysitter" urban legend.

(2.) Compared To Original:

Acting: 14/20 Writing: 13/40 Directing/Editing/Production/Etc: 37/40

Overall: 64/100 D

Review: This version makes A LOT of references to the original - from
keeping the same character names for the babysitter and parents of the
children being babysat, to the babysitter taking ice cream out of the
fridge when checking and "securing" the house.

In addition, the woman who plays Mrs. Mandrakis physically resembles
Carol Kane, the main detective in this film physically resembles the
detective in the original and even the Stranger in this film physically
resembles Curt Duncan from the original.

Camilla Belle does a much better acting job than Carol Kane,
undoubtedly.

*Spoiler Alert!*

Even though Belle does a better job - and has a bigger role - than
Kane, she only gives a consistently decent performance. The Stranger is
hardly shown in this film and doesn't have much of a performance to
give - unlike in the original version.

This version of the film focuses solely on the legend itself, whereas
the legend was only the first 20 minutes of the original film. As a
result, this version is not nearly as creative and entertaining as the
original. There is really something to be said about the originality in
the script and the performance of Tony Beckley as Curt Duncan in the
original film; These factors make the original a much more
timeless-classic than this newer version, especially by comparison.

The writing in this version took no risks, and the result was a more
consistent script than the original but less of a long-lasting
impression. By comparison to the first 20 minutes of the original film,
this version only really improved in the acting department - otherwise
it was just a longer version of the same thing with less impact.

Speaking of no risks, this newer version was also a sign of the times.
Most sane and decent people do not like to see kids dying but that's
exactly what makes this folk legend such a scary and timeless one. Part
of the impact of the original film was the fact that the kids were
killed by The Stranger. It made his character that much more
frightening. In this newer version, they do show a sped-up version of
this in the beginning, but it goes by so quickly and with such little
background that you almost miss it. It's a quick prelude that didn't
build up enough suspense transitioning into the storyline with Camilla
Belle. It would've been better to play out the calls with the "first"
babysitter, rather than for her to not be able to find them - yet the
officers found some kind of mess in the kids' bedroom. So this entire
beginning was kind of confusing and not as consistent with the rest of
the script.

The Stranger in this version is also a let-down in comparison to the
Curt Duncan character in the original. It's understandable that the
newer version had a phenomenal performance to contend with, that would
likely not be upstaged, but the decision to replace it with a Michael
Myers type version instead was a real bummer.

After seeing the original, you even miss the detective's performance as
it was such a compelling character.

*End of Spoiler Alert!*

All of that being said, the newer version is definitely an improvement
where you'd expect it to be the most, in the
directing/editing/producing departments. This newer film is visually
done in a much more stylized, Hollywood manner that has a lot of
entertainment value. That being said, it loses some of the "authentic"
look that the older version has, which is a shame as the "authentic"
look worked better for this kind of scary story and added more of a
timeless feel/quality to it.

Overall this newer version really lacks in originality of script,
characters and performance compared to the original - yet is still
watchable as a tribute to the original legend and film. However, if
possible, I'd recommend watching the newer version before watching the
original version, so as to enjoy both more. (Otherwise watching the
original will very likely ruin the newer one for you by comparison.)

Overall Score As Original + Remake Together: Acting: 15/20 Writing:
21/40 Directing/Editing/Production/Etc: 36/40

Overall: 72/100 C-
June 11, 2017
Despite what the tomatometer says I rather enjoyed this film, loved the concept and thought it was executed rather well.
May 12, 2017
I Can't Believe This Film Was Critically Panned.
March 4, 2017
Camilla Belle hurls herself into an emotionally and physically demanding role with heroic conviction, but this update of the 1979 movie of the same name is a suitably suspenseful but ultimately empty exercise in cat-and-mouse torment, without any hint of identity or motive given to its creeper nor does it add anything new to the classic legend, "The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs."
½ March 4, 2017
Good premise, poor execution. When a young female babysitter volunteers to help out a rich older couple, she is treated to a lavish experience that she even gets paid for. Unfortunately for her, the evening comes with the threat of death as she is soon receiving anonymous phone calls notifying her that her every move is being watched, and the mystery assailant wants to see her blood. From this point onwards its just a game of cat and mouse with her stalker chasing her around every part of the house until the closing scenes. The suspense is built and built and we're all eager to see who the villain is and what's his motive. Disappointingly, there isn't one - Unless I missed something through feeling bored (which is highly possible), it's just a random with no connection to the girl whatsoever. Other than one cameo appearance from the heroine's friend, there's no other characters to follow in this, making it a tad monotonous the longer the chase goes on. Without sounding like a complete psychopath, you don't see anyone murdered, and in truth not a lot really happens upon reflection. It's therefore quite a dull bit of viewing that is not really that recommendable unless you're the sort of person who is easing themselves into watching horrors because you scare easily. Alas, i'm clearly not one of those, and would probably rather be in receipt of prank calls than have to sit through this one again.
January 22, 2017
Disappointing movie... When we see the trailer we think: ow! this must be an excellent movie! So, what just happened was that the "excellent trailer" made us feel very disappointing with the final product... Horrible screenplay and plot,, The childreen only appeared in the end of this movie and they were boring, Rosa working at night makes no sense and we don't understand why is that stranger man trying kill them, maybe he is trying to get his revenge with that family or maybe because he is a crazy serial killer, we don't understand...
November 5, 2016
Seriously enough phone ringing already! A struggle to sit through this nearly unbearable remake (which know doubt I'm sure was way better). Dumb dumb and yeah dumb. Including the yes you guessed it - dumb ending.
½ October 11, 2016
It's so naff its great. Utter nonsense but it is actually nice to look at. Ridiculous, not that scary and with an unconvincing lead ... but...who doesn't adore phone call horror?!!
July 30, 2016
it is certainly not as bad as the critics say
July 22, 2016
Another remake that was surprisingly decent thanks to Camilla Belle.
½ May 20, 2016
I didnt had much expectation for this movie from all bad credits it has. But I must say that it surprised me in a very good way. I wouldnt call it a very creppy horro movie but a nice triller that got me on edge, and maked shills with smal jumps on some parts. For me that is easy spoked this movie was just perfect! Some parts could have been changed to the better or been more explained, maybe even happened some more things. But over all I like it alot and I think Camilla Belle did her part very good in her reactions and feelings. The ending was so great that I can watch a second movie if anyone dear to make one in these bad credits, many years after.
February 19, 2016
I actually enjoyed it to me it was better than the original ???
½ January 14, 2016
Its a fall back movie on a Sunday:)
½ December 20, 2015
Infused with cheap scares, wooden acting, and horrid direction, this trite remake serves as an appalling mish-mash of predictable cliches, as well as remarkably horrendous storytelling.
½ December 17, 2015
When a stranger calls, don't answer.
December 13, 2015
I love Camille Bell. She's beautiful and she doesn't overact, not annoying at all. I think she nailed the role. Unfortunately, the film is horrible and the plot is bad. I suppose everyone will tell me the original is better. I don't suppose that you can do any worse than this film. The plot is dumb, some idiot keeps prank calling young women to terrify them and does it over and over and over again over the course of a night. He says almost nothing, breathes hard on the phone like a moron and just tries to troll his victims.

Then eventually he gets inside the house and starts killing everyone, nobody knows how he gets or breaks in, but he somehow does. I tried to make sense out of how he got into the house where Camille was babysitting, but I couldn't figure it out. I couldn't see the flaw or what she did wrong, if anything in a house so ritzy and high-tech, that this should or couldn't really normally happen.

The film probably should be more appropriately titled, When A Stranger Bores. When A Stranger Snores. When A Stranger Overly Acts. When A Stranger Trolls. The biggest problem with this film lies in which the film does absolutely nothing for an hour. The entire film, outside of 15 minutes take place in the house. So 45 minutes is spent wasting your time with a freaked out babysitter. The chase stuff is only about 15 or 20 and the remainder of the film is the aftermath. Poorly done, poorly executed. The film had potential, but failed miserably.
November 1, 2015
Horrible movie, and worse acting!!
October 23, 2015
This was better than the original (1979) movie. I must admit, this movie did have me on tender hooks.
½ October 20, 2015
Here is a remake the probably was worth making. After an exhilarating opening scene, the original movie loses its sense of direction and veers off on a lengthy unsatisfying tangent. This movie wisely focuses on the part of that movie that did work. There is a back-story, a slow lead up, and the killer remains shrouded in mystery. Check, check, and double-check, this should be perfect now right? Not so fast, this has cardboard acting and has the feel of "dumb-teen horror movie." The setting of a gorgeous modern house in a remote location may seem more isolated and feel scary, but it defeats the point. I like how the original movie takes place in a typical suburb and involves a tragedy that could happen anywhere in middle-class America. Having a babysitter that must protect helpless children is enough to keep her anchored in one location. Some things in the plot are better in the remake, but the style and tone of the movie are wrong. I still think this concept can become a horror masterpiece in the hands of the right director. We will need to wait another fifteen to twenty years to try again.
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