A psychopathic killer terrorizes a babysitter, then returns seven years later to menace her again.A psychopathic killer terrorizes a babysitter, then returns seven years later to menace her again.A psychopathic killer terrorizes a babysitter, then returns seven years later to menace her again.
The film starts off with a babysitter (the excellent Carol Kane whose expressive eyes could tell an entire 90 minute story without dialogue) being tormented by an obscene phone caller telling her to check the children. Anyone over the age of 10 has probably heard the classic legend that this section is based on and the payoff is, more or less, the same. It's a brilliant, suspenseful sequence that shows director Fred Walton as a master of his craft.
After this, we end up following the detective on the case (Charles Durning) who is looking for the child killer. That's essentially the next 40/50 minutes and it's about as exciting and gripping as an episode of Columbo. Try as the actors might, it just never gets off the ground until the killer decides to go after Kane's character in the present day where she has two young children of her own. Once that section begins, the film hits its stride again and ends on a high, terrifying note.
When A Stranger Calls is pretty much two really effective short films with a dull police procedural shoved in between it.
- Aug 1, 2019