When a Stranger Calls

Fred Walton's When a Stranger Calls (1979) had one of the best opening acts of any 70s horror flick; adapted from his own short film The Sitter, it showed a teenage babysitter fielding a series of menacing anonymous phone calls before the police trace one and deliver the heart-stopping news that the calls are coming from inside the house. The rest of the movie failed to live up to the first 20 minutes, though the original premise became the stuff of urban legend, and Wes Craven paid tribute to it in Scream. This remake takes an alternate tack, expanding the story of The Sitter to a full 83 minutes, but the result is dull and painfully generic. Simon West directed; with Camilla Belle and Clark Gregg. PG-13.

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