"The Worst Babysitting Job. . . Ever"
WHEN A STRANGER CALLS could be classified as ‘horror movie lite.’ It contains some suspense but almost none of the bloody, sadistic violence to be found in other popular slasher flicks.
Jill is a high school senior and must take a babysitting job to repay her parents for a massive cell phone bill. Fortunately, the family for whom she is babysitting owns a palatial, state-of-the-art home perched on the side of a mountain. Once the parents are gone and the children are asleep, Jill begins to hear strange noises around the house and receive creepy phone calls.
Jill calls her friends, but they’re at a party and cannot come. She calls the police, but they cannot trace the anonymous caller because he has not threatened her. Jill is on her own as the signs become more ominous; she wonders if she is simply paranoid.
The mystery caller finally says something legitimately scary, and the police are able to trace his call. They tell Jill that the calls are coming from inside the house. Now it’s do-or-die time for her and the children she’s babysitting.
WHEN A STRANGER CALLS relies on a lot of stock tricks for horror movies, such as suspicious noises and blinking lights. Many times, the source of Jill’s scare is only an ice machine or the pet cat. The initial three-fourths of the movie are built on Jill’s paranoia and contain almost no plot, which makes for a boring night at the theater. Once the action begins, there is a quick chase through the house, then the movie’s over in the blink of an eye.
If the filmmakers should be commended for anything, they did not pad their movie with disgusting, gory imagery or a lot of foul language. There is only one scene of significant violence, but it is filmed in the shadows so that the viewer’s mind fills out the picture instead of the camera. Another novelty for teen horror movies is that there are no sex scenes.
More acceptable than most of what’s in theaters lately but ultimately boring, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS is still a waste of time.
(H, C, B, L, V, A, M) Light humanist worldview with teenager who is alone in a scary situation, brief shots of Christian iconography and teenage protagonist must protect children from malevolent person and situations; three obscenities and no profanities; man’s hand stabbed with fire poker, handful of girl’s hair ripped out, intruder chases children, corpse revealed without blood or visible harm, small explosion, a scary threat, and lots of intense sound effects; teenagers allude to their experiences with alcohol; no smoking; and, creepy phone calls and stalking.
WHEN A STRANGER CALLS contains some suspense but almost none of the bloody, sadistic violence popular in today’s horror movies. Jill is a high school senior who must take a babysitting job to repay her parents for a massive phone bill. Once the parents are gone and the two children asleep, she begins hearing strange noises around the house and receiving creepy phone calls. The police trace a call and tell her that they are coming from inside the house. Now it’s do-or-die time for Jill and the young children she’s babysitting.
WHEN A STRANGER CALLS relies on common tricks, such as suspicious noises and blinking lights. Many times, the source of Jill’s scare is only an ice machine or the pet cat. When the action finally begins, there is a quick chase, then the movie’s over in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, there is only one scene of significant violence, and it is filmed in shadows. There is also a small amount of foul language and no sexual content. Too bad, then, that the movie is ultimately boring. It’s a great example of junk food that does nothing good for you.