WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (2006) Reviews and overview

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‘Whatever you do, don’t answer the phone.’

When a Stranger Calls is a 2006 American horror feature film directed by Simon West from a screenplay by Jake Wade Wall (Devil’s Backbone, Texas; Cabin Fever 3; Amusement). The movie stars Camilla Belle, Brian Geraghty and Katie Cassidy.

This is a loose remake of Fred Walton’s 1979 horror film of the same name that became a cult classic for its suspenseful opening twenty minutes – here extended to a feature-length film.

Far away from the site of a gruesome murder, a teenager named Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) arrives at a luxurious home for a baby-sitting job. With the children fast asleep, she settles in for what she expects to be an ordinary evening. But then the phone rings and an ominous voice asks, “Have you checked the children?”…

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When a Stranger Calls is a minimum effort horror movie. It does just enough to scare easily unnerved thirteen-year-old girls, and not much else.” Joshua Tyler, CinemaBlend

“The melodramatics are amped up by the token storm raging outside — which is all very well, but the simple creepiness of those threatening calls is lost in all the Gothic thunder, and giving the killer a mobile phone ruins the premise […] Loud, noisy, flashy but too rarely chilling.” Kim Newman, Empire magazine

“Every sequence in this film has been done so many times that even casual viewers will be exhausted by its familiarity. Jake Wade Wall’s bungling screenplay reeks of being padded in rewrites, and even with said padding the film still runs only eighty-three minutes. Consider that its shining attribute.” Bill Clark, From the Balcony

“Having abstained from character development and stalling for something to do between calls, the movie dwells in the house’s dark corners, plugging plot holes with overzealous sound design.” Jonathan Kiefer, Sacramento News & Review

” …there’s nothing new here: the hyped-up score keeps telling us we ought to be scared, but the suspense feels mechanical and fake.” Nigel Floyd, Time Out

” …I know plenty of girls who love horror but this film and I’d also say the wretched Prom Night remake appear to be directed point blank at young teenagers with an excess of girl-themed sub-plotting and are positively anorexic when it comes to genuine horror.” Hudson Lee, Vegan Voorhees 

Main cast and characters:

  • Camilla Belle … Jill Johnson – The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  • Brian Geraghty … Bobby – Open House
  • Katie Cassidy … Tiffany Madison – Wolves at the Door; A Nightmare on Elm Street; Harper’s Island TV series; Black Christmas; Supernatural TV series
  • Tommy Flanagan … The Stranger – Alien vs. Predator; Trauma (2004)
  • Lance Henriksen … The Stranger (Voice)
  • David Denman … Officer Burroughs
  • Derek de Lint … Doctor Mandrakis
  • Kate Jennings Grant … Kelly Mandrakis
  • Tessa Thompson … Scarlett
  • Madeline Carroll … Allison Mandrakis
  • Clark Gregg … Ben Johnson
  • Arthur Young … Will Mandrakis

Filming and locations:

Principal photography began on January 1, 2005 and completed on 28 February 2005 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Signal Hill was used to portray the carnival. Running Springs was the location for the road sequences. The luxury house interiors were located in Culver Studios in Culver City and the exterior was a set built in Franklin Canyon Park, Beverly Hills.


The PG-13 rated film was theatrically released on February 3rd 2006. It grossed over $66.9 million worldwide on a reported $15 million budget.

Home media:

Released on DVD on May 16th 2006 on DVD. Special features include two audio commentaries (one with Camilla Belle and Simon West; the other with Jake Wade Wall), deleted scenes, a 20-minute making-of featurette, and trailers.

A Blu-ray was released by Mill Creek Entertainment on October 4, 2016, with I Know What You Did Last Summer and Vacancy.

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