The phone rings. It is late at night. A young woman sits alone. She is babysitting two children. Answering it might mean the end. A film that was a sleeper hit, another that was made for TV. When a Stranger Calls / When a Stranger Calls Back are two films with long histories and complex fan base. Taking a very simple premise, then shifting the momentum and wrong footing the viewer, these are classic thriller films. Carol Kane stars as Jill Johnson as she sits at the house of Dr. Mandrakis (Carmen Argenziano). He and his wife are going out for the evening. Jill will babysit and hopefully get some studying done before they come home or the kids wake up. She will look after two children fast asleep upstairs. A phone call shakes her. Has the voice on the other end go to them? Is he watching? Can he be inside the house?
The two films do top and tale the voyage that both thriller and horror cinema took over the 15 years between. When a Stranger Calls is a slow burning thriller. Directed with patience, with a slow, held camera that fixes the space and the time. This is a journey piece. You are living through her experience and it works. The sequel, When a Stranger Calls Back is however the better film for me. Yes made for TV but far more clever in its limitations and derivations. It takes notes from many other sources and executes them well. The direction is more dynamic and the tension holds throughout. This is as much the script and acting as it is the film makers work but it all comes together well enough.
The When a Stranger Calls restoration is a step above. Do your self a favour if you buy it, see the awful transfer on Youtube. This is warm, clean and has resolved the depth of focus issue finally. The sequel When a Stranger Calls Back, looks like waht it is. Its a TV movie with an over lighting issue. Does it look better now…I think nothing has changed really.
The best feature is Directing A Stranger : An Interview with director Fred Walton. Walton informs us of what made him film it, play with tones and Kane as an actress. Scoring A Stranger : An interview with composer Dana Kaproff also is worth swinging by.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:
- Brand new scan and restoration
- The sequel When a Stranger Calls Back in HD
- New scan and restoration of the original short film The Sitter
- Reversible sleeve with new artwork by Obviously Creative and original poster artwork
- English subtitles for the hearing impaired for both films
- Directing A Stranger : An Interview with director Fred Walton
- Carol Kane on When a Stranger Calls
- Rutanya Alda on When a Stranger Calls
- Scoring A Stranger : An interview with composer Dana Kaproff
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:
- Original soundtrack CD
- 40-page perfect bound booklet with new essay by Kevin Lyons
- Reversible poster with new and original artwork
- Rigid slip case packaging