When a Stranger Calls Back [reviewed by the Drudgeon]

When a Stranger Calls Back94 min., 1993
Directed by Fred Walton
My rating: **
IMDB

A great beginning, boring middle and great end.

* * *

Julia Lenz (Jill Schoelen) has been called to baby-sit two kids for a little bit while their parents go out.  The night seems normal enough with a little TV and some homework, and then the phone rings.  She answers it, but no one is there.  Julia goes back about her homework then there is a knock at the door.  A man is at the door and is asking to use the phone.  He tells her that his car has broken down.  She tells him to go away, but he keeps asking.  After a little time he’s back at the door telling her to check on the kids and that someone’s in the house with her.  The kids are gone and she runs out the door.  Five years (and another really bad hair cut) later, she is going to college and living on her own.  Coming home she finds a child’s shirt in her closet and she runs to the police where she ends up meeting Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) and her friend John Clifford (Charles Durning) who are the only ones willing to help her, but can they find the man or men in time to save Julia?

It was a big surprise (and joy) to me that Carol Kane returned to reprise her role as Jill from When A Stranger Calls.  She plays a grown up and more secure Jill with perfection and pride.  She owns the role and you can tell that she is happy to be back in this character’s shoes.  Jill Schoelen does a roller coaster of a job with Julia though.  She goes from being very believable to extreme overacting in a matter of seconds.  When she is doing great you feel every second of her performance, but then she goes completely south and overdoes everything.  Her performance in the beginning is perfect, but then as the movie moves along she just loses steam and starts to try way too hard.

There are almost no effects in the movie and that’s okay by me because there was no real need for any.  The only real effects are the make up that is used and they do a perfect job with it, especially at the end of the movie where our villain is hiding.  When there is the reveal you are like “Holy shit!” and (at least I did) you rewind to re-watch that scene, just to see if he was there the whole time.  It’s totally cool and some of the best makeup that I’ve seen in a while.

Overall this is a movie that could have been great, hell a classic, but the problem is with the middle of the movie.  The beginning is tense and really keeps you on edge and the ending is just the same, but the middle is just really boring.  Having Julia going slowly crazy is just done poorly and very slow.  The investigation that is also done by Jill and John is equally as boring.  It’s not the most boring movie ever, but after a great opening you just beg for more of that feel.  Instead you have the feeling of boredom as you are waiting for that same first thrill.  With that boring of a middle, the movie goes from great to just good.  Check it out and you should be pleased.

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About The Drudgeon

I don't remember my real name or where I came from. All I know is that I'm traped in an underground cave with nothing but a TV, DVD player and a notebook and pen. They keep calling me The Drudgeon, I don't even know what that means. Someone keeps dropping horror movies in and yelling at me to watch them and write about what I watch. Then I eat the DVD and case, because they tell me if I consume the horror I will understand the horror. I think there are three of them. So if you are reading this right now, HELP ME!!!!!!! OUCH!!!! Someone just poked me with a sea urchin attacked to a pool cue, what the fuck is going on?
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