WHEN A STRANGER CALLS
hopscotchee: dianna agron score: 71 rating: pg-13 time: 87 minutes
mighty popular this story must be?!?! the 2006 horror film, when a stranger calls, that we had the pleasure of watching and cuddling through was based off of its original, same-titled, 1979 rendition and the 1979's follow-up, when a stranger calls back. oooooooo!!!! the follow-up's title may sound a little cheesy, but that was 1993, and we are fully focusing on the superior early aughts. though, we promise to not let our '03 baby club pride takeover this review. pinky promise. instead, we are going to !reject! the absurd rotten tomatoes nine percent rating!! really, how does the rotten tomates still have a reputable reputation when they are accurate on their ratings very little of the time?? here at twinsAF we almost octuple the score and, although had to sleep with the lights on after this viewing, say that we strongly loved the creep and chillness that went into the stylization and thought-through for when a stranger calls. and those are just obvious facts, lovebug :)
surprisingly starting out strong for the genre that has grown and advanced since '06, the (spoiler) carnival chaos scene was not irrelevant, despite its choice to include several 'random' cuts and focus on other people instead of the beginning with the introduction or character development of the main character. by letting our, the audience's, brains get flustered by this eerie sight, moving our eyes from a nearby house, parents trying to find their kids, children running with the ominous red balloon, and the up-down motion of a carousel, we are distracted from what we need from this scene. therefore, when (spoiler) an actually murder takes place in the - oh, yeah - house we began with, which is alluded by a shadowy stranger and a scream that's masked from the chaos, we are in the perspective of those bystanders at the carnival. this is a very clever way to begin one's movie. what especially assists this is the camera work and editing. in this case, the camera work uses zooms and the editing cuts fast between them to create a quick zoom in/zoom out motion that gives a similar sense of someone watching every detail. kinda creepy, huh?? additionally, this editing choice goes hand and hand to the sensory overload at the beginning. so by catching us off guard, we are almost more intrigued and more on-edge going forward. what a great way to start. claps, claps, claps!!
moving our motion sensor spotlighting over to another likey we had with when a stranger calls, we can't not mention the work of camilla belle. basically carrying the movie on her shoulders, camilla was responsible for leading us through the plot even in the silence. her physical acting was just as powerful as her verbal. however, what we commend most of all were her little nuances that allowed for her character to be more relatable to the audience. partially giving credit to the script as well, one instance of a nuance was when (spoiler) jill grabs one of the fireplace tools for defense. at first she grabs the coal-scoopy one (the shovel) but then hesitates, setting it down to replace it with the pointier-stabby one. this may seem very nit picky to point out, but the decision making we see here explains that her character isn't equipped 24/7 with fight-a-stranger readiness, which is more accurate to the norm than main characters that have cool one liners and always know what to do in frightful situations. another example of a nuance was when (spoiler) the police asked jill for her address. we were all ready for a speedy response of the location, however, in fact, jill panicked, not knowing it on the top of her head since she was babysitting someone else's house. she eventually finds the address written out nearby, yet this immediate pitfall of not knowing the address goes to show the realistic, 'you&i' (hashtag one direction) characteristics that jill aka camilla belle portrays. and it's this savvy take that increases the scare-factor in all of the 87 minutes.
lastly, most obvious for us to applaud is the manipulative scoring of this film's soundtrack, but it must be pointed out!! seriously spooking us from the get go, we praise the composition for not feeling overdone in any scene (....minus the one where (spoiler) jill drops the phone and the cameras go all crazy). specifically, we want to focus our salutes to the scary score beginning at the start of the movie. today, horror films cue in their music right when the jump scare happens. and, sure, this adds to the height of the jump, but what we found powerful to the way when a stranger calls chose to apply their score was that, with the constant background goosebumps, you didn't know when a jump scare was going to happen, leaving you terrified entirely. it may be mean, but it sure is madly mindful!!
overall, this is one heck of a suspenseful horror flick, succeeding purposefully with the slow egging of the subtle creepy brew. it definitely needs to be more celebrated and up on people's lists from top great scary movies to watch. though we do warn you: beware yourself of the spine-chilling statue props and evil intentions of the agents of s.h.i.e.l.d. dad (even if they weren't clarified). and please know that when a stranger calls.....DON'T ANSWER!!
-- thanks, dianna xo