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When A Killer Calls (2006)

DVD Cover (The Asylum Home Entertainment)
Movie Connections:
When A Stranger Calls
> The Sitter (1977)
> When A Stranger Calls (1979)
> When A Stranger Calls Back (1993)
> When A Stranger Calls (2006)
> When A Killer Calls (2006)
Genres / Traits:
Horror, Psychological Thriller, Slasher Film, Teen Horror, Urban Legends
Director:
Peter Mervis Peter Mervis
Starring:
Rebekah Kochan Rebekah Kochan
Robert Buckley Robert Buckley
Mark Irvingsen Mark Irvingsen
Sarah Hall Sarah Hall
Christian Hutcherson Christian Hutcherson

4.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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A babysitter begins receiving threatening phone calls from a man who has just killed an entire family. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: July 11, 2011
It's time for another Asylum flick, and this time, I decided to pop in one of their older releases. When a Killer Calls was their attempt to cash in on the popularity of When a Stranger Calls, which itself was a remake of the 1979 film of the same name. Now, I am of the opinion that When a Stranger Calls never needed a remake, a retelling, a rehash, or any kind of modernization: it was a perfect film, and it is a film that works just as well today as it did back on its original release date. However, we did get that remake, and you know what? It was one of the worst remakes of horror history. You fine readers have cast your votes on it, and as of this writing, it ranks #17 on the list of our worst movies ever. So, I was curious to see what the Asylum would do with this storyline, and I wanted to know if it would continue their trend of making movies that are worse than whatever it is that they were cashing in on... because if it was worse than that remake, it would have to be one of the worst films of all time. Surprisingly, it wasn't, and it's not.

If you've seen either of the two aforementioned films, then you already know the storyline for this one; hell, you can probably even quote some of the lines. For the two or three people who haven't seen either of them, this one revolves around a young babysitter named Trisha (Rebekah Kochan) who is tasked with keeping a young kid (Carissa Bodner) out of trouble while her parents are off at a party. Trisha's plans for the night involve playing with the little girl, letting her eat some ice cream, putting her to bed, and then spending the rest of the night making out with her boyfriend Matt (Robert Buckley), who will be showing up a little later. Of course, things couldn't be that simple, as Trisha soon starts to receive disturbing phone calls asking if "she's checked the child lately." When that doesn't seem to get through to her, the man on the other line gets a little more blunt and simply tells her that she is going to die. I don't want to spoil things too much, but if you've seen the other two movies (or have any knowledge of the horror genre), you know where it goes from there.

I actually enjoyed this telling of the tale, for the most part. It was atmospheric, it didn't rely on cheap scares, the leading actress didn't make me wish for her death in the opening five minutes of the movie, and it delivered the goods that horror fans want to see. Now, I'm not saying that I preferred this film over the original movie, but compared to the remake, it is a classic of the genre. As a stand-alone film, it is also pretty enjoyable - maybe not a perfect movie, and maybe not something that will wind up on anybody's list of favorites, but horror fans who don't mind retreading this storyline will more than likely enjoy it.

For starters, it is simply a well-told tale that will get horror fans involved with the storyline instead of alienating them with false scares and cheap build-ups to nothing. There are no false scares here: if something happens, it happens to further the storyline instead of to make the audience jump in their seats. The characters, for the most part, make rational decisions that seem realistic instead of doing the dumbest things imaginable simply to set up a "tense" scene. As a result of this smart writing, which was admittedly borrowed heavily from the original film, we are allowed to get sucked into the events that are unfolding on our screen instead of laughing at them and wishing for our money back.

As for the smaller pieces of the puzzle, let's see: there is plenty of gore on display here, and it looks great aside from a few spots where the effects look a little amateurish. There's nothing terribly original here, just a bunch of slashes and stabs, but it looks nice for what it is. Leading lady Rebekah Kochan is pretty good in her role, and though I can't say that she was perfect, she does a good job with the "ditzy teenage babysitter" role. You won't remember her for this performance, but you won't bitch about it either. Really, the only negative thing that I can say about the movie is that it starts to run out of steam for a couple of scenes towards the end (mainly when the killer has been revealed), but even that is a minor thing as it quickly finds its way again.

When a Killer Calls gets a thumbs up from me. No, it is not better than the original film, not by a long shot. Yes, it is infinitely better than that dreadful remake, and yes, it is worth checking out if you want to see a decent remake of a classic film. 7/10.
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