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When it comes to American slashers one the best horror movies in that regard is “When a Stranger Calls”. It is a home invasion thriller informed by the classic “Black Christmas”. One of the first home invasion thrillers, that was released four years prior. You can watch the original for free on Tubi and the remake on Netflix
It was remade in 2006. Now, in the world of horror movies, remakes are a subject as controversial and polarizing as religion, race, or politics.
It’s the religion of cult cinema versus the creed of updated horror stories.
It’s the politics of commercialism versus fan interest, which includes not only a valid artistic concern but sometimes also a sentimental element of nostalgia that, I think, should be minimized.
In most of the (pathetic) cases, it’s a race to the bottom as to which production company and director create the most sucking remake of the biggest saga that deserved to be left alone.
If the owners of the original versions need a coin, I don’t see why they shouldn’t give rights to others to make remakes, right? Still, if there’s a retrogression in the effectiveness, scare, creep and gross-out factors, or any other disappointment with the new version, then tough luck.
That’s why I wanted to review the two movies back to back on a single article because this remake is a textbook case of what’s wrong with remakes: crass commercialism.
It’s a story about a nanny that becomes a victim of a home invasion perpetrated by a murdering psychopath. The remake adds a meandering subplot and the end product isn’t as entertaining as the original form 1979.
In the remake, the lead is presented with a moral dilemma. Go to a bonfire party or babysit. She has her priorities figured out because she chooses to work over leisure. It turns out, it’s going to be the worst night of her life.
The remake sucks, it’s a snore-fest. The lazy-ass writing sticks out like a mole that lives in the whack-a-mole.
You can’t make a thriller, and make the antagonist a cookie-cutter silhouette without any kind of substance, and build the whole script on the lead.
This isn’t a horror movie this is terror, and of a very lame kind at that.
In contrast to that, the original has very strong characters. I think I might be biased because I love Charles Durning due to “The Dark Night of The Scarecrow” being the first horror movie I watched.
I didn’t like the original that the sick twist of the script ripped off the reveal of “Black Christmas”. The remake just puts a finger on that wound and replicates the shameless cannibalization of “Black Christmas” reveal.
Even if there aren’t many movies that copy that, it felt like a very trite cliche.
I liked the original more because it’s the kind of movie that features scenes one wants to see.
Late-night shots of 1970s Los Angeles? Yes, please!
Shots of Hollywood’s city looking like Bollywood’s City? Sign me up for that.
Besides, the antagonist of the original is given the development he deserves, and that makes for a diametrically greater movie.
The only redeeming point of the remake, for me, was the different time and world where cellular phones give instantaneous connectivity.
Even having to change the story due to that, which I think paves the way for even more lazy writing, I don’t see how it would justify the otherwise insipid screenplay.
My morale for this movie is, culled from the original: They Don’t Make Home Invasion Thrillers like that Anymore.
I’d recommend the original to all of you who like to watch an old thriller then and now. I love thrillers as second bests after horror. If that means anything to you, by all means, watch this movie.
Also, to those that love to watch a good time-capsule movie, because this is one of those.
If you suffer from a feeling of bathos when watching old movies I wouldn’t recommend you to watch the old one. I have also a hard time seeing the good qualities of the remake. I’ll leave it at the 2006 remake is an unnecessary movie that thriller and horror watchers don’t need to watch.
Do You Keep Track of the Best Horror Movies?
Sometimes, to find all the best horror movies requires that you deep dive into the forgotten tastes of the past. If you focus on the three points in time that can shield great horror movies that you still have not seen, then you stand a better chance of not running out of great horror movies to watch.
Besides rounding out your horror genre knowledge, watching good old horror movies has many additional benefits. For instance, if you know the horror movies of the past, you will spot remakes as soon as you are notified of an upcoming release. Having experienced the original will always give you an edge when watching these kind of movies.
© Bholenath Valsan 2021 — “WHEN A STRANGER CALLS” Review of The Original AND The Remake – Netflix and Tubi Best Horror Movies