[Screen It]

 

"WHEN A STRANGER CALLS"
(2006) (Camilla Belle, Tommy Flanagan) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Minor Extreme *Heavy None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Heavy Extreme None Mild
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Mild None Minor Moderate *Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Horror/Suspense: A teenage babysitter must contend with a psychopath who repeatedly calls and terrorizes her in an unfamiliar house.
PLOT:
Teenager Jill Johnson (CAMILLA BELLE) is having a bad week. Not only did she catch one of her best friends, Tiffany (KATIE CASSIDY), kissing her boyfriend Bobby (BRIAN GERAGHTY), but her parents have also removed her car and cell phone privileges for a month due to her going over her monthly plan by 800 minutes. Accordingly, and while Bobby, Tiffany and another good friend, Scarlet (TESSA THOMPSON), head off to a high school bonfire, Jill's dad drives her to a remote lakeside home where she's to baby-sit and earn some of the money she owes her parents.

With a brief a description by Dr. and Mrs. Mandrakis about the scenario -- the young kids are sick with the flu and already in bed, the family housekeeper Rosa (ROSINE HATEM) lives up on the third floor, and the doctor's college-age son may or may not show up in the adjacent guest house -- Jill settles in for what should be an uneventful evening.

But then the phone starts ringing. First, there's no one there, and then it's heavy breathing. Jill wonders if it's Bobby or another classmate messing around with her. But when the voice of the Stranger (TOMMY FLANAGAN) on the other end suggests he might actually be watching her, the teen gets spooked. When she can't get anyone she knows on the phone, she calls the police, but they say they can't help if the calls aren't threatening.

From that point on, and as she makes her way through the house that's equipped with motion sensor controlled lighting as well as a slinky black cat, Jill tries to figure out what to do as the calls from the stranger continue and become ever more frightening to her.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Those who are into boogeyman type horror films may want to, as might any who are fans of someone in the cast.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For intense terror, violence and some language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • CAMILLA BELLE plays a teenager who's upset that she caught Tiffany kissing Bobby and has had her phone and car privileges suspended for a month. But she has bigger concerns when a stranger repeatedly calls and scares her at a remote house where she's babysitting for the night. She then tries to save herself and the kids from the killer.
  • TOMMY FLANAGAN plays the stranger who repeatedly calls and eventually comes after Jill with murderous intent.
  • KATIE CASSIDY plays one of Jill's friends who blames kissing her boyfriend on the tequila she had been drinking.
  • TESSA THOMPSON plays another friend who talks with Jill on the phone.
  • BRIAN GERAGHTY plays Jill's boyfriend who she caught kissing Tiffany.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this horror/suspense film that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 2 "s" words, while a handful of other expletives and a few colorful phrases (one of which contains a sexual term) are also uttered. Some artwork shows abstract style nudity (it's very artsy with no details), while the main character wears a tight top that accentuates her bust.

    The film is filled with nearly non-stop suspense where a stranger repeatedly calls and spooks a teenage babysitter who reacts to all of the weird sounds, etc. she hears (there are many scenes showing her cautiously walking through the house to check out things in the usual "don't go in there" fashion). While younger kids and those with low tolerance levels for such material might find it very suspenseful or even scary, horror or suspense film fans will likely be bored by the material.

    Several off-camera murders are committed (we see the bloodless bodies afterwards), while the perpetrator eventually tries to attack and kill the babysitter (thus exhibiting bad attitudes, while other, more benign ones are also present). It's possible the film could inspire some copycat behavior (the phone calls), while it's suggested a minor teenage character has problems with alcohol consumption (some drinking almost occurs, but is aborted).

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's a great deal of camera movement in various scenes that's likely to cause that reaction.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Talking about having kissed Bobby, Tiffany says, "You know what tequila does to me," with Jill telling her friend she should quit. Tiffany then says they should do a "truce shot," saying there should be a good bar in the house. She then finds a bottle of tequila and prepares to pour some, but Jill reminds her about quitting and they never have any.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a little bit of blood on the killer's hand after Jill impales it to the floor with a fireplace poker.
  • Jill has a dried, bloody cut on her face after fighting off the killer.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The killer obviously has an extreme bad attitude for his actions, etc.
  • We hear that Jill had her cell phone service cut off after going 800 minutes over her plan.
  • We hear that Jill caught her boyfriend Bobby kissing one of her best friends, Tiffany, although he claims she kissed him. Tiffany later blames the tequila she had and then says that she and Jill are even since she was interested in Bobby years ago before Jill stole him away from her.
  • Jill snoops around the house and even puts on some of the wife's jewelry after they've left for the evening.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Jump Scenes" may be unsettling, suspenseful or scary to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material, but not as much (or at all) to other viewers, particularly those familiar with the genre.
  • A miscellaneous girl gets a call from the stranger (we only hear her from a bedroom in a house adjacent to a carnival). We then hear a scream and see the silhouette of her (through the window and from a long distance) being pulled down. The next day, the police arrive on the scene and one goes into the bedroom to look and almost gets sick from what he sees (we don't see anything, but hear that no weapon was used to kill the girl -- presumably meaning he did it with his bare hands).
  • Jill hears various odd sounds coming from other parts of the house and nervously goes looking for their cause.
  • Jill answers the phone and hears creepy, heavy breathing on the other end before the caller hangs up.
  • Jill sees one of the house's motion sensor controlled lights come on, and cautiously goes to see who might be there, but it's just the family cat.
  • The house alarm system goes off and Jill goes and turns it off, but for some reason doesn't seem too concerned about what activated it.
  • The phone rings again and Jill hears a breathy male voice creepily ask if everything is okay.
  • Jill hears more odd sounds in the house and slowly walks to the kitchen carrying a fireplace poker (it turns out to be the ice machine).
  • As Tiffany leaves the house at night and walks toward her car, she hears footsteps somewhere around her. She then tries to find her keys in her bag and when she finally does, she drops them under the car. She then scrambles to reach them, all as more noises are around her. She eventually grabs them and gets in the car, but it won't start. It finally does, but her route down the driveway is blocked by a fallen branch and she nervously gets out of the car to try to move it.
  • There's loud pounding on the front door and Jill thinks it's Tiffany returning to the house, but when she opens the door, no one is there.
  • The phone rings again and caller ID shows that it's from Tiffany, but it's really the stranger and his menacing voice on the line.
  • Jill tries calling Rosa, the live-in help, and hears her phone ring elsewhere in the house. She then continues to call as she tries to zero in on its location. She eventually finds Rosa's bag (and the phone inside it) in a small utility room. We then see the door slowly closing behind her and then see a figure there, but we then see that it's just a coat and hat hanging on the wall that looked like a person.
  • Jill answer another call where the stranger menacingly asks, "Have you checked the children?" She then cautiously goes upstairs to do just that -- passing by a dimly lit human type sculpture at the top of the stairs that has long, creepy fingers -- and finds the children safe and asleep in bed. The phone then rings again, with the stranger now asking how the children are, indicating to Jill that the caller can see her. She then panics and closes the few available curtains in the heavily windowed house.
  • Jill sees a light go on in the guest house (where the family's college-age son occasionally stays), but no one answers when she calls over there. She then sees a figure moving behind the closed curtain and thus decides to run over there for help. But when she gets there, no one is inside, although the stranger calls. She then sees a light go back on in the main house and then runs back over there where she gets another call with heavy breathing on it as she slowly makes her way through the house.
  • When Jill nervously asks the caller what he wants, he replies, "Your blood all over me," which only freaks her out even more.
  • Jill enters a room where she hears the shower running in the bathroom. She then slowly goes up to the shower curtain and yanks it open, but no one is there.
  • Jill gets a call from the police that they traced the call and that it's coming from inside the house with her. Just then, the power goes out and she discovers her dead friend on the floor (her eyes are open). She then races out of there, but then slowly and nervously tries to make her way back downstairs in the dimly lit surroundings.
  • Jill goes to check on the kids in the dark and discovers that they're missing. She then enters another part of their room where she sees the leg of a stuffed animal sticking out of a large toy crate. She then cautiously opens that and finds the kids alive and hiding there, but the killer then jumps down from some open-air part of the ceiling and comes toward them. Jill then has the kids climb out the window as she tries to tie off and then hold the door closed. She then climbs out the window and starts going down an adjacent tree as the killer breaks through the door and we see her fall hard to the ground below (but she's otherwise okay).
  • After activating the sprinkler system to give them cover in the mist at night, Jill has the kids hide and she then lowers herself into an ornamental but deep pond as the killer comes out and searches for them. She then decides to go underwater to hide, but comes face to face with a dead body down there. She resurfaces under some sort of small platform, with the killer then suddenly reaching down at her from one side and then the next, trying to grab her (all as the frightened kids run back to the house and try to get in). She eventually overturns that platform, dumping him in the water and she races to get out.
  • She then runs back to the house and tries to close the door, but he grabs part of her hair as she locks the door, meaning he can't get in but she can't escape due to his grip. She eventually tears away from him (leaving him with a fistful of hair) and tries to find the missing kids. Instead, she finds various birds inside the house (with the cat having caught one and is eating it), meaning if they found a way in, the killer probably did as well.
  • As Jill tries to run out of the house, the killer grabs and throws her back to the floor. She then tries to scramble up the stairs, but he repeatedly grabs her legs and pulls her down toward him each time she tries to escape. They eventually struggle on and then fall off the open staircase, with her trying to run away, only to have him grab her again. The two then struggle on the floor, with him trying to strangle her. She tries to hit him with a bottle of tequila, but it goes into the fireplace instead. As he tries to kill her, she uses the remote control to start the gas fireplace that sends out a small fireball that causes the man to yell (but he doesn't catch on fire). She then takes a fireplace poker and drives it through his hand, impaling him to the floor.
  • Jill wakes up in a hospital as a patient, but discovers that it's completely empty. A ringing phone in the room draws her back inside, but it stops. As the door closes, she suddenly catches sight of the killer, but this turns out only to be a nightmare.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "It's just a bunch of skanks and jerks acting like idiots," "You jerk," "What the hell are you doing here?" "I'm a bitch," "Freaks," "Have you checked the children?" "What do you want? -- followed by the answer -- "Your blood all over me."
  • It's possible the film could inspire some kids to make crank calls to try to frighten other kids or siblings, etc.
  • Jill wears a midriff-revealing exercise outfit during practice.
  • We see what's presumably a sanctioned school bonfire (where a large wooden figure is burning as students party around it).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • The cat suddenly surprises Jill (accompanied by sudden music on the soundtrack for us).
  • The outside sprinkler system suddenly comes on right at the window as Jill is standing there.
  • Separate birds suddenly flutter by Jill as she makes her way through the house.
  • Tiffany suddenly surprises Jill in the house.
  • Jill suddenly sees a dead body.
  • The killer is suddenly behind Jill on the opposite side of a large window.
  • A dead body underwater startles Jill.
  • Jill imagines suddenly seeing the killer behind a closed door.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of ominous and suspenseful music plays throughout the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 2 "s" words, 2 asses (both used with "hole"), 1 damn, 1 hell, 2 uses of "Oh God" and 1 use each of "My God" and "Oh my God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A girl comments that those at a school bonfire are "just a bunch of skanks and jerks acting like idiots."
  • Dr. Mandrakis' wife shows a little cleavage in her cocktail dress.
  • Jill wears a very tight top that doesn't show any skin but does show off the shape of her bust.
  • Some of the artwork (paintings, small sculptures) in the house features what looks like nude women, but all of it's abstract in style and thus no details are seen.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Jill isn't happy that her dad has suspended her car and cell phone privileges for a month.
  • We hear that the Mandrakis' college-age son is from his first marriage (but we don't hear what happened to his first wife).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • How to deal with threatening or harassment style phone calls.
  • We hear that Jill had her cell phone service cut off after going 800 minutes over her plan.
  • Teenage alcohol use.
  • VIOLENCE
  • While several murders are present, they occur in scenes that we don't see.
  • A miscellaneous girl gets a call from the stranger (we only hear her from a bedroom in a house adjacent to a carnival). We then hear a scream and see the silhouette of her (through the window and from a long distance) being pulled down. The next day, the police arrive on the scene and one goes into the bedroom to look and almost gets sick from what he sees (we don't see anything, but hear that no weapon was used to kill the girl -- presumably meaning he did it with his bare hands).
  • Jill suddenly sees a dead body (presumably killed by the stranger).
  • Jill falls hard to the ground from a tree but is otherwise okay.
  • After activating the sprinkler system to give them cover in the mist at night, Jill has the kids hide and she then lowers herself into an ornamental but deep pond as the killer comes out and searches for them. She then decides to go underwater to hide, but comes face to face with a dead body down there (presumably killed by the stranger). She resurfaces under some sort of small platform, with the killer then suddenly reaching down at her from one side and then the next, trying to grab her (all as the frightened kids run back to the house and try to get in). She eventually overturns that platform, dumping him in the water and she races to get out.
  • Jill then runs back to the house and tries to close the door, but he grabs part of her hair as she locks the door, meaning he can't get in but she can't escape due to his grip. She eventually tears away from him (leaving him with a fistful of hair).
  • As Jill tries to run out of the house, the killer grabs and throws her back to the floor. She then tries to scramble up the stairs, but he repeatedly grabs her legs and pulls her down toward him each time she tries to escape. They eventually struggle on and then fall off the open staircase, with her trying to run away, only to have him grab her again. The two then struggle on the floor, with him trying to strangle her. She tries to hit him with a bottle of tequila, but it goes into the fireplace instead. As he tries to kill her, she uses the remote control to start the gas fireplace that sends out a small fireball that causes the man to yell (but he doesn't catch on fire). She then takes a fireplace poker and drives it through his hand, impaling him to the floor.



  • Reviewed February 2, 2006 / Posted February 3, 2006

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [American Made] [Battle of the Sexes] [Flatliners] [A Question of Faith] [Stronger]

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2017 Screen It, Inc.