The Schlocktoberfest – Day 23: When a Stranger Calls


When a Stranger Calls (2006)


Check out my review of the original When a Stranger Calls here!

*Spoilers Throughout*

What’s This About:
See there’s this stranger and he keeps calling. This stranger, he’s up to no good.

Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:

  • Who didn’t have caller ID in 2006?
  • These people on this particular street live in front of an evangelical church with a huge neon cross that says JESUS SAVES and behind them a carnival is happening. That’s a week I stay in a hotel.
  • Why does every horror score from 1999–now, sound the same to me?
  • The beard makes this chubby detective “old and fat?” He’s already looking like Porky Mitchell.
  • We were just told that there was no murder weapon found to be used against this victim yet we don’t see the actual murder victim and what they looked like? C’mon!! This flick’s off to a rousing start so far!
  • This high school gym has an elevated running track around the basketball court. Very odd.
  • Hey Boom-Boom? That’s some guy’s name or nickname?
  • Bobby, who cheated on our heroine Jill, just doesn’t take a hint.
  • Tessa Thompson? Nice.
  • Jill is extremely cute but she speaks very low and slowly. I can’t tell if that’s because she’s tired or just slow.
  • Clark Gregg? That’s two Avengers in this flick so far!
  • Jill is grounded for going over her cell phone minutes and has to babysit to pay it off. Man, how far we’ve come from actually having to worry about cell phone minutes. Even today’s teens in 2022 will find this plot point unusual.
  • A TiVo reference! I miss my TiVo and its distinct Blop-Blop-Blop remote sounds.
  • How did Jill get this baby-sitting gig when her dad had to drive her many miles to the house? 
  • I don’t believe I’ve seen this actress, Camilla Belle, who plays Jill in anything before. I’m going to imdb her but before I do I’m going to take a guess and say she was an old CW/WB star. Let’s see….
  • …I was way wrong. The only thing I saw her in would be The Lost World: Jurassic Park and she was the little girl in the beginning that was attacked by those tiny raptors.
  • The family that hired Jill doesn’t know her. Which, to me, is weird not vetting someone to watch your children. They say she was recommended by other people that they trust but still.
  • These people are mega-rich. You would think they could hire someone full time? I mean, if you have a koi pond INSIDE your house who should be able to afford an au pair.
  • Wait a damn minute! Dinner AND A MOVIE?!
  • Why is ominous music playing now when she just got to the house and making herself at home? Either leave it quiet or have her play something nice. We know we’re watching a horror movie, no need to make every second of this dreadful and tense.
  • Jill is amazed at the room that has automatic sensor lights that only come on and off when a person is in the room. I’m sure this will play a part when the stranger is in the house. [sadly it doesn’t]
  • Does TiVo still exist?

  • It’s been a while since I’ve seen the original but didn’t that one start immediately with Carol Kane being terrorized but the obscene calls? This one is going for the slow burn and trying to make Jill uncomfortable before the calls start.
  • They have a maid? She’s feeding the koi. So why don’t they have a live-in nanny?! Or pay the housekeeper extra to watch over the kids. The kids are asleep anyway so there’s really nothing for Jill to do. Which kinda defeats the point of a babysitter. 
  • A cat jump scare!?
  • Jill thinks talking to her ex-boyfriend will help the situation of him constantly trying to call her. Dope.
  • The house alarm goes off suddenly and Jill deactivates it but it doesn’t state what zone or reason why it went off. That’s helpful.
  • I made a comment about Jill’s voice but it’s kinda growing on me and I’m starting to like it. It’s like an ASMR thing.
  • Again, this is 2006. How does this rich family not have Caller ID?
  • And why does Jill keep answering the phone?
  • Someone else prank called Jill but it was obvious it was some asshole classmates. Red herrings.
  • This movie is really going for that slow burn. Like sloths stuck on molasses in hell kinda slow burn.
  • Who is this chick that barged in the house? Tiffany who?
  • Best friend? Tequila? She’s the one who kissed Bobby? How is Jill still friends with her?
  • Tiffany is a raging alcoholic.
  • Tiffany is played by the same actress who was Kelli in Black Christmas.
  • Easily enough, Jill makes Tiffany leave the house. Tiffany was only in the house for 3 minutes. You would think a self-proclaimed bitch would put up a bigger fight to stay at the house and drink their booze.

  • Tiffany is spooked in her car trying to back out of the long driveway. Also there’s a branch blocking the gates. This is taking up a lot of screen time for a character we just met and know will ultimately die.
  • If she’s going to get out to move the branch and get killed it would be the most inconsequential character death in a horror movie I ever saw. We just met her and she was in the movie for 4 minutes.
  • So there IS Caller ID! Why didn’t she use it before when the older man was calling?
  • Was that an Oompah band playing at the high school bonfire party?
  • I’m assuming we’re not going to see Tiffany’s death scene. This is one boring horror flick.
  • Jill is panicking now and calling everyone she could. Her dad, her friend Tessa Thompson, the people who she’s babysitting for, the restaurant they were dining at and now the police. Someone will come to her aid right? RIGHT?!
  • The original was iconic and extra spooky because SPOILERS the calls were coming from inside the house in the 70s when there was only one landline per home. In the age of cell phones and caller IDs this ain’t working. In fact it’s downright boring.
  • Seriously, are there still people who use TiVos? Let me know in the comments if you still use a TiVo or know someone who does.
  • Stop answering the damn phone Jill!

  • One time the harasser asks her if she checked the children and Jill actually goes upstairs to actually check on them. Well we are more than halfway through with this flick. Chop chop.
  • There’s two young kids sleeping in the same room? Why don’t they have separate rooms?! Maybe the parents want them to work and earn their own room.
  • The harasser calls again after she checked on the kids and asked how were the children and Jill is now in full freak-out mode and closing all the shades in the house. Why she didn’t think of doing that hours ago is beyond me.
  • With less than a half-hour left, are we ever going to see that portly detective from the beginning again? How unnecessary was that beginning scene?
  • And the original’s beginning was that awesome thriller with the calls coming from inside the house and the rest of the movie was about the killer escaping and trying to get Carol Kane again many years later. This movie is trying (& failing) to emulate the original’s opening scene and that’s it. Which, I’m cool with, but this is not even close to the suspense and thriller that the original’s 20 minutes was.
  • Plus, this weak ass remake doesn’t have the balls to actually kill those little kids like the original did.
  • Why is she leaving the main house to investigate the guest house?!?! 
  • And how is there a major storm happening all of a sudden?!
  • Why does this dummy still think that the housekeeper is not only still roaming around the house but also still alive at this point?
  • Whew. Cross-country athlete Jill made it back in time. This is like when Mari was the swimming athlete that escaped the rapists in Last House on the Left but without the bullet in the spine.
  • Is Jill trying to get herself killed? That’s the only explanation for her actions.
  • This harasser is doing more slow breathing in the phone than the breather did in Student Bodies.
  • I don’t know if this Jill is very smart or very dumb,
  • Yeah in 2006, this means very fucking little in terms of a horror twist. 
  • Whose idea was this to remake this movie?
  • Now I have to sit through 20 more minutes of Jill being terrified and moving slowly around the house until the dickhead killer shows up.

  • At no fucking point does Jill try to arm herself with like a kitchen knife or something. Earlier she walked around with a fireplace poker but now nothing.
  • I was hoping I was wrong with the harasser not having the balls to kill the children but yeah they are still fine.
  • Now we have whining and crying kids as the killer/harasser tries to break down the bathroom door.
  • I know in the original, there was zero motive for the killer to kill the kids and harass Carol Kane but at least he killed the kids. It’s ever weirder that this guy left the kids alive and is just stalking Jill for shits and giggles.
  • I mean, he killed Tiffany and left her for Jill to find in the house. Maybe he draws the line at little kids?
  • This could be the dumbest killer in motion picture history. 
  • Hahaha. Even the cat has killed one of the pet birds. It’s more of a natural killer than this dingus.
  • He can’t even over-power a 16-year-old girl that weighs probably 98 lbs.
  • She turns on the gas fireplace which somehow burned the killer and then she stabbed him in the hand with the fireplace poker. Like I said, he is one terrible killer.
  • Roy from The Office is a police officer?
  • With about 5 minutes left, there’s still time for the killer to escape and get his one final revenge on Jill. 
  • Okay, we don’t need to linger on the killer’s face for what feels like 2 minutes.
  • Other than a scar on his cheek, he’s not a bad looking fella. Hardly the menacing type.

  • Why is Jill in the hospital? He barely touched her much less harmed her.
  • Remember when horror movies had good satisfying endings?
  • Why is the hospital empty? I mean no nurses or doctors at all. AT ALL!
  • A nightmare? That’s the ending? She’s scarred for life is what the movie is now implying about Jill. She’ll need years and years of therapy to get over the ordeal.

Final Thoughts: Man, this was disappointing. The original still has a great opening scene—tense and memorable and still gives me the willies. This remake is useless and wasn’t even remotely updated for today’s standards and technology. I’ve said it numerous times that even in 2006 most people had cell phones, so the whole “the calls are coming from inside the house” is more or less meaningless. If the killer WASN’T in the house it would be a shock. At no point did this remake do something that only the technology in 2006 could do compared to the late 70s timeframe of the original. Only the brief occurrence of Caller ID and home security was what this film utilized but to no avail. Its story was even more simplistic than the original as this took the original’s opening scene and basically stretched that to feature length. Which, again, is fine but do more with it than scared and paranoid babysitter runs around with the phone in her hand. It’s a shame because with new and advanced technology there’s a lot more we could do to heighten the fright of being alone in a strange place with someone harassing you for fun. I’m sure there’s some whippersnapper writing a screenplay for yet another remake called “When a Stranger Texts.”

Score: 3 TiVos (out of 10)

Which was Better?: The Carol Kane version is still a great suspenseful thriller. Don’t bother with this new one.

One thought on “The Schlocktoberfest – Day 23: When a Stranger Calls

  1. Pingback: The Schlocktoberfest: The Recap Ends | Hard Ticket to Home Video

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