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When a Stranger Calls (2006) Camilla Belle, John Bobek

This 2006 version of When a Stranger Calls is quite different from the 1979 version which is truly a suspense-filled thriller. Some things have not changed; a young high school is stalked on the telephone by a stranger. However, that is where the similarities end. In the new version, she is working because she is being punished for going over her cell phone minutes limit. Her dad drives her to the large out-of-the-way house where she will baby sit two children for the evening. The many-windowed house is key to the eeriness of the movie; the house is located in a remote area surrounded by trees, overlooking a lake, and the wind howls continuously. The lights are dim, so shadows are cast throughout the house.

After Jill (Camilla Belle) settles down for a long evening,(the children are upstairs sleeping in their room) the telephone starts to ring, she answers, but no one speaks. Jill becomes annoyed because she thinks her friends are playing pranks. When she hears noises in the house she sets out to look for the housekeeper, whom the owners had said was in the house, she cannot find her. The calls continue and finally a voice asks "Have you checked the children?" She does go upstairs to check the children,and as she starts down the stairs, the telephone rings again, it is then she realizes that someone is watching her. Jill calls the police (John Bobek) and when asked if it is an emergency she answers "Yes", then "No". The police trace the calls and discover that they are coming from within the house. Jill must get herself and the children out of the house and out of danger.

The ending is a surprise, but for some reason does not make a true connection to the story. Unfortunately, there is no real horror to this horror genre movie. The cast also includes: Tessa Thompson, Brian Geraghty, Clark Gregg and Tommy Flanagan as "The Stranger". Rated PG-13.

Do yourself a favor and rent When a Stranger Calls (1979), a much more realistic movie of the same name. It stars Carol Kane as the frightened teen, Charles Durning as the detective who is determined to find the stranger/killer, Colleen Dewhurst portrays a pathetic barfly who catches the stranger’s attention and the detective’s as well. Tony Beckley, Rachel Roberts and Ron O'Neal of "Superfly" fame round out this superb cast. This version moves forward seven years, Jill is married and has children when she encounters the stranger once more. And he asks the same question, "Have you checked the children." Rated NR

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