Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – When a Stranger Calls (2006)

Director: Simon West

Writer: Jake Wade Wall (Screenplay) Steve Feke, Fred Walton (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Camilla Belle, Tommy Flanagan, Katie Cassidy, Tessa Thmpson, Brian Geraghty, Cark Gregg

 

Plot: During a babysitting gig, a high-school student is harassed by an increasingly threatening prank caller.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Remake Failure

 

Story: When a Stranger Calls starts when High School student Jill (Belle) is being punished for going over her minutes on her phone bill must take a babysitting job in a house in the middle of nowhere. Jill is currently going through a break up with her boyfriend Bobby (Geraghty) and questioning her own friends Tiffany (Cassidy) and Scarlett (Thompson) on their part in it.

After a strange phone call, noises around the home and the alarm going off Jill starts to believe something is going on in the house, is she alone with the kids anymore?

 

Thoughts on When a Stranger Calls

 

Characters/PerformanceJill is the naughty high school student that has gone over her cell phone calls limit and must pay for it by babysitting, while also dealing with her boyfriend and best friend cheating on her. She doesn’t know how to make a good decision when a stranger starts calling her during the night of babysitting. The Stranger calling is interesting because we know he is capable of murder from the opening sequences, but now we learn to how calculated he is when picking his prey. Most of his damage is only explained and shown through facial expressions of the police investigating his crimes. Tiffany and Scarlett are just plain friends on the generic scale that we are used too.

Performance wise, Camille Belle has to do most of the work in this film and she does struggle in a role that has created countless amazing female leads, the rest of the cast are fine but don’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThis is a remake so we know the basics of how this film goes because it follows a babysitter needing to figure out who a mystery call is only to learn the truth and need to fight to survive. We have a couple of addition to the idea here because we need to explain the cell phone situation through the film but otherwise the film is filled with too many false scares that don’t lead to much.

HorrorThe horror is just false jump scare after false jump scare which never comes to much, we have one sequence but otherwise it is mostly about how things could happen.

SettingsThe house is isolated which is the highlight of the film because we know how this character isn’t going to be able to have much help and the stranger can take his time stalking his victim.

Special EffectsThe effects are limited and are mostly used for use of lighting and a few stunts, which I think does work because we don’t need anything flashy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a remake that doesn’t use the potential and has already become outdated because of the technology that is used as the stumbling blocks.

 

Overall: Not all remakes work.

Rating

 

 

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Jamie Marks is Dead (2014)

Director: Carter Smith

Writer: Carter Smith (Screenplay) Christopher Barzak (Novel)

Starring: Morgan Saylor, Noah Silver, Cameron Monaghan, Brett DelBuono, Fred Tolliver Jr, Ronen Rubinstein, Liv Tyler, Judy Greer

 

Plot: In a wintry small town, the body of a teenager named Jamie Marks is found by the river. Adam, the star of his cross-country team, becomes fascinated with Jamie-a boy nobody really knew or interacted with, except occasionally to bully him. When Jamie’s ghost begins to appear both to Adam and Gracie, the classmate who discovered the body, Adam is caught between two worlds. He has a budding romance with Gracie, but he also feels a deep connection to Jamie, who brings him closer to the world of the undead.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Interesting Drama

 

Story: Jamie Marks is Dead starts with the discovery of Jamie Marks (Silver) body in a riverine in the small town he is from, bullied by most, it is Adam (Monaghan) who looks back at his brief memories of his time with Jamie wanting to pay respect to where he was discovered, where he meets Gracie (Saylor) the girl who found the body.

When Adam becomes friends with Gracie the pair start to get visits from the ghost of Jamie which drives Adam’s interest into what happened to him leading him down the narrow road between life and death as he is left to question his own sexuality and uncover the mystery surrounding Jamie’s death.

 

Thoughts on Jamie Marks is Dead

 

Characters/PerformanceAdam is the star runner at his high school, he keeps to himself without getting involved in being or conducting any bullying. He gets drawn to what happened to one of the victims of the bullying as he hits the awkward age where he must discover his own sexuality. Gracie is the one friend Adam finds himself having, she is also a lonely character that is seeing the ghost of Jamie too but not on the same level as Adam. She does also give the warnings about getting to know the ghost can be. Jamie is the bullied school boy who ends up dead, he returns as a ghost to show Adam a way through life getting him to help solve his murder or the mystery surround his death.

The performance are all good from the main actors, they help unfold the story for us in a way that keeps us interested in seeing where it will go.

StoryThe story does follow on high school student that is trying to figure out who he is, be it in life, he sexuality and his draw towards a recent death in the town. Looking at how it all unfolds we get elements of the ghosts of our past guiding us to the answers that seem easiest rather than the ones we need to see. This is slow moving at time but does keep you full attention to just what will happen.

SettingsThe small town settings is always good for the dramas as it shows how the town can show us just how cruel people can be and how easily the stories can spread.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that is good for what it is telling us, we have a good story, good acting and a meaningful message.

 

Overall: Drama that keeps your attention without being edge of your seat.

Rating

 

 

2018 Anticipated Film #8 Isle of Dogs

2018 Anticipated Film

2017 was one of my favourite years for movies in years, so through the month of December I am going to look at 31 movies that I am looking forward to in the year of 2018, they are not in any order just 31 I want to discuss.

Isle of Dogs

Main CastScarlett Johansson, Liev Schreiber, Tilda Swinton

Plot – Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his dog.

Will I Enjoy It?I want to say yes, but as I am only slightly on board with Wes Anderson, I know he has a style I don’t completely enjoy but I respect.

Will it be successful? I do feel this one will struggle in the Box Office even if the critics may enjoy it a lot.

Release Date (UK)30th March 2018