Underrated Horror Remake: “When a Stranger Calls” (2005)

My choice for underrated film is the remake of When a Stranger Calls. The film tells the story of Jill Johnson, a young teenage girl who is being forced to babysit as a way to pay back her parents for her high cell phone bill. When Jill’s father drops her off, they are both in awe at the sight of the house she’d be babysitting in. Very large, with very large windows. Before the parents leave, Jill is told that the children are asleep upstairs. As the night wears on, Jill starts to receive really freaky phone calls. Eventually Jill has the calls traced, and it’s revealed the calls are coming from inside the house. Can Jill safely get herself and the sleeping children out of the house? Or will all three become victims of this murderous psychopath?

I can understand the hate to an extent, Camilla Belle’s acting is definitely not the greatest, and yes it does have an overload of “cheap scares”. However, I very much love this movie more than the original, mostly for the fact that this actually sticks to the original legend for mostly the whole film after all the introductions. The original sticks to it for a whole fifteen minutes or so before straying off to a boring as hell plot about the detective trying to catch The Stranger. What I also loved about this film is that is has an excellent setting and atmosphere. As well as some great suspense and build up to the final sequence. As I watched the movie the first time I felt just as trapped as Jill, despite it being a huge house. I was really with Jill the whole time, even to the point of when she has to decide whether to get out of the house right away, or go upstairs and get the children. The final 20 minutes kept me on edge the whole time when I first saw this in theaters. Yes, I even admit I jumped a couple of times during the time period. So despite many cheap jump scares, and the not-so-solid acting by Ms. Belle, I extremely enjoyed this little thriller of a film.

–Cody Landman