Alex is a freelance writer, retail worker, short film maker, an avid lover of The Arts and always willing to explore.
Published October 14th 2012
When a Stranger Calls is one of the few horror films where you're yelling at the characters to run up the stairs.
If you are planning to watch this, prepare to embark on a cinematic wondering of every babysitter's worst nightmare. When A Stranger Calls follows the life of high school student Jill Johnson, as she manages to survive a horrific home invasion that was endured whilst babysitting.
Jump forward six years later; Jill Johnson is now a wife and a mother of two. Jill is able to live a fairly normal life, but is still left with that horrific babysitting incident imbedded deep into her mind. This said incident involved a highly disturbed and extremely violent mental patient, known as Curt Duncan. Curt has since broken free from the mental institution, and is now loose on the streets, only to be closely tailed by one Officer John Clifford. Is Curt out for revenge? If so, will Officer John Clifford stop Curt in time? Will I tell you what happens next? No.
When A Stranger Calls is arguably one of the more famous popcorn horror slasher flicks from 1970's, featured along with the likes of Halloween, Black Christmas and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Unfortunately when usually discussed amongst the horror genre, it is not always particularly shined upon. From the perspective of many modern film goers, When A Stranger Calls often comes out more as a target for satire and is considered a very much average example of a by the book horror. However unlike most horror films of it's time, widespread claims such as, "don't watch it alone" and " the scariest opening in film history" are in this case far from being exaggerated.
Not only does When A Stranger Calls carry the ability to make you soil yourself within the first twenty minutes, but Fred Walton's cult film contains just about every aspect that creates a truly gripping horror almost the entire way through. With an all round fantastic cast and masterful direction, this film's only seemingly obvious draw back is it's unnecessarily slow pacing during the middle act.
Sadly When A Stranger Calls is in a similar situation to other adapted features such as Cashback and 9. What originally started off as a jaw dropping excellent short, is somewhat tainted by the effort to obscenely stretch out the duration to a feature length, and milk it for much more than it's worth. When A Stranger Calls is still a frightfully wonderful tale, but such as in this case and many others, less is certainly more.