Monday, February 06, 2006

Why "When a Stranger Calls" doesn't call to the NY'er

The top draw at the box office this weekend was Sony Screen Gems “When a Stranger Calls” which made a decent clip more that was estimated, and tallying in at $22 Million. Now to those of you who read my blog on a somewhat consistent basis, you may have been surprised to discover that I didn’t run out to see this movie and subsequently post its review on my blog. Under normal circumstances I would have, because, well, it’s what I do. I have seen all the other recent horror remakes from the past couple years, but I think this one was just the last straw for me; I couldn’t do it. It isn’t that the film’s plot doesn’t intrigue me –it does. In fact when I was younger I was thoroughly frightened by the 1979 original starring Carol Kane. Based on an age old urban legend, the film is about a young woman who is babysitting children one night and begins to receive threatening anonymous phone calls. The stranger on the phone keeps asking her if she’s “checked the children”, and after a while she gets spooked and calls the police. The police then notify the babysitter that the calls are coming from inside the house. In the original, by the time the babysitter has found this out, it is too late and the children have already been murdered. The film then jumos forward into the future when the babysitter is grown and has children of her own. The killer has been released from prison and he goes about terrorizing her all over again.

I’m not sure how the plot is dealt with in this remake, but based from the trailer , it seems as though the action takes place over the course of one night. So not only have they simplified the film to a veritable four hour game of cat and mouse, but everyone already knows the twist (that he’s in the house), and the actress, Camilla Belle, while most likely chosen for her looks and economical payrate seems ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE in the role. I mean bad, really bad, makes Paris Hilton in House of Wax look great, bad. No, seriously, watch the trailer again. When she says the line “Stop calling me you sick---“ she seems as scared as a whiny child in an Oscar Myer bologna commerical.

Still it makes me wonder if I’m loosing my stamina. Time was, I would have gone out to the movie theatres to see this sort of flick straight away. Have I become jaded? Am I loosing hope that there will ever be good genre stuff again? I hope not. I’m aching for something to jolt me out of these remake doldrums…


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