"Have you checked the children"?, and with that said right there we are hit with another remake, this one of course being "When a Stranger Calls". The first film of the same name was always a favorite of mine; I even liked the sequel, so I was a little skeptical of this one more so then I was with some of the other remakes. When I first learned of this film I wasn't really thrilled to hear about it, and even after seeing the trailer I was even more disappointed. My first mistake was judging a film by its trailer, and the second was doubting the film before I even had seen it.
The thing I liked most about this film was that instead of straight remaking the film they kind of played with the idea of what the first film did in the first 20 minutes. That of course was the part were the killer called the babysitter a toyed with her until attacking, for those who have seen the original they know that the first 15 to 25 minutes was some of the most intense minutes on film. So the idea that they would turn that first 20 minutes of the original into the full movie was in my mind a pretty good idea. The final product though was a mixed bag of sorts, I liked it but it did have flaws.
The story is of a teenage girl who has babysitting duties for a rich family out in the woods [of all places], and all seems well at first. The phone starts to ring and Jill picks up, some times it's nothing but some times a voice comes through. The first call asks her "is every thing ok", and with that we are off and running. The thing I like about this film is that it builds some much and the tension is always there. After the famous "have you checked the children" line appears in the film, Jill goes to check on them. After she returns down stairs the phone rings again, now we hear "how were the children". It's with that line that the film really starts to work, and I am hooked for this point. The only flaw to this film or at least the biggest one is that with all the build up we are kind of let down with the ending. The actual end sequence was actually really good, but the part were the killer was caught kinda left me saying `that was to easy".
Besides that let down towards the end, this film actually pretty good. Director Simon West did a pretty good job with this film, and his direction on this film shows that he really tried to make a good film. Also the film looks great, production designer Jon Gary Steele and DP Peter Menzies Jr. did an excellent job on this film. Even actress Camilla Belle did a great job in her portrayal of Jill Johnson. But I have to say that the person I was most impressed with was screenwriter Jake Wade Wall. His vision of what this film should have been was brilliant, it wasn't carried out the way I think that he wanted it but it was good. Plus his commentary track for the film is great, he sounds like he really wanted this film to work and sounds really enthusiastic. I have to agree with what he said about one shot in particular, that of course being the shot were we see the guy in the ceiling looking down at Jill. That was an excellent shot, and it's also refreshing to know that he originally wrote the confrontation between Jill and the killer longer.
The film over all is a decent movie and it shows for the most part, both commentaries are good and the behind the scenes featurette is nice as well. I recommend this movie to any body who just wants some thing to watch on a rainy day.