Monday, February 20, 2006

When a Stranger Hits Redial

Horror movies have seen better days. Now, I realize, going to the theaters in the early months of the year is an extraordinary gamble. I mean, what do we have to choose from right now? Pink Panther? Curious George? Big Mama's House 2? Of course, with the genre trend booming, we have our pick of countless brainless horror sequels and remakes, which sadly make it to the top-ten box office place; sometimes even the top three. When A Stranger Calls is one such remake. Starring Camilla Belle, who looks like the love child of Selma Blair and Britney Spears - with a name to match - the film focuses on the first twenty minutes of the original (which is really all that anyone remembers, anyway). Now, any horrorite might think, goodie, extending the chase, fight, cat and mouse for the entire movie could be fun. Yeah, right. No matter how many times I am reminded, I seem to always forget that the horror industry is a very Catholic industry. We must endure the most trivial plot and character development for the five minutes of promised delivery of killer, stalk, slash, blind goreness which was all but eradicated as I noticed the PG-13 rating as the ticket tearer tore my ticket.

And sure enough, all that When A Stranger Calls delivers are cats running through the dark, birds flying around loudly (like the "rats" in The Exorcist), phones ringing at the most silent moment. When the frightening iconic moment occurs, ("We've traced the calls, they're coming from inside the house!") it's been so parodied and expanded upon, we realize, we're so beyond that as viewers. Or so I'd like to hope. People in the US are eating up When a Stranger Calls. I know I say this a lot, but this film was one of the most boring, obvious psuedo-porno's I've ever seen. (*Note that I said "one of") It's full of popsicle sucking and wet t-shirts, girls walking through the windy dark trail, and though the music swells, you know nothing will be waiting for her at the end of the trail but a black cat or ice cubes clunking in the freezer. Eventually, you realize that, until the last five minutes, nothing is going to happen, save birdies and kitties going bump in the night. Even when the killer comes, it is a PG-13 movie. Nothing worthy of note happens. A very brief chase sequence is thwarted by the POLICE! Not even a dramatic end meets our killer, which allows for a direct DePalma rip-off to close the film. This is the kind of film that they were making fun of in the nineties, yet the short attention span of the general public has ensured another generation of that exact same stuff pornographied, and all we can do is sit back and (not?) watch as the studios recycle the films that we're already dated to begin with.


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