When a Stranger Calls (2006 film)

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When a Stranger Calls
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySimon West
Written byJake Wade Wall
Based onWhen a Stranger Calls
by Steve Feke and Fred Walton
Produced byJohn Davis
Wyck Godfrey
Ken Lemberger
CinematographyPeter Menzies Jr.
Edited byJeff Betancourt
Music byJames Dooley
TeleStranger Productions, Inc.[1]
Distributed byScreen Gems[2] (through Sony Pictures Releasing[1])
Release date
  • February 3, 2006 (2006-02-03)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[2]
Box office$67.1 million[2]

When a Stranger Calls is a 2006 American psychological horror thriller film directed by Simon West and written by Jake Wade Wall. The film stars Camilla Belle, Brian Geraghty, Katie Cassidy, Tessa Thompson and Clark Gregg. Belle plays a babysitter who starts to receive threatening phone calls from an unidentified stranger, played by both Tommy Flanagan and Lance Henriksen. It is a remake of Fred Walton's 1979 horror film of the same name, which became a cult classic for its opening 20 minutes, which this remake extends to a feature-length film.

The film was theatrically released on February 3, 2006. It was panned by critics but was a moderate box office success, grossing $67.1 million worldwide on a $15 million budget.


A local sheriff enters a home where multiple homicides have been committed; the victims are three children and their babysitter, all slaughtered brutally by an intruder using his bare hands.

Meanwhile in Colorado, 125 miles away from the crime scene, 16-year-old Jill Johnson is on her way to babysit for the wealthy Mandrakis family, as a consequence for exceeding her cell phone minutes. When she arrives, Mrs. Mandrakis shows her around and tells her about their live-in housemaid, Rosa.

A long time after the parents leave, Jill begins to receive threatening phone calls from someone who, most of the time, does not say anything and then hangs up. She initially believes it is her friends playing a prank, but when she contacts them, they deny it. While the Mandrakis' two children are asleep upstairs, Jill is visited by her friend Tiffany, but in fear of getting into further trouble, Jill asks her to leave. While returning to her car, Tiffany is ambushed by an unseen intruder.

Jill receives a call from the person, indicating he can see her. Alarmed, she calls the police, who tell her they can trace the calls if she is able to keep him on the line for at least sixty seconds. While waiting for the phone to ring, Jill sees a shadow moving in the guest house. Believing it is the Mandrakis' son back from college, she goes to investigate, but finds the guest house empty. While in the guest house, the phone rings and it is the same caller. This only confirms her fear that he is watching her. She keeps him on the phone so the call can be traced, only to remember he called a different line. Jill looks out the window and sees a light has been turned on back at the Mandrakis' house.

Believing Rosa is home, Jill searches for her, but finds no one is there. The phone rings again, and the caller remains quiet on the other end; Jill manages to keep him on the line for a minute so the call can be traced. Jill then hears the shower running in the maid's room, but upon checking, the bathroom is empty. The police call her back saying to her “the calls are coming from inside the house and she needs to take the children & get out of the house.” Horrified, Jill finds Tiffany's body on the bathroom floor and flees.

Jill goes to the children who are already hiding in their playroom. She looks up and sees the intruder in the loft. They all escape into the greenhouse and hide; Jill discovers Rosa's dead body under the water. The assailant enters and searches the greenhouse. Jill manages to lock him inside, but he breaks out and attacks her. During the altercation, Jill manages to turn on the fireplace to scorch the assailant’s back then stabs the assailant's hand into the hardwood floor with a fireplace poker, before rushing out of the house into the arms of a police officer. The assailant is arrested.

Days later while recovering in the hospital, Jill awakens to a phone ringing. She gets out of bed and, while looking at her reflection in the mirror, the assailant appears behind her and grabs her. She begins to shriek hysterically, waking from her hallucination as the doctors and her father desperately try to stop her frantic panicking.



Screen Gems first announced production of When a Stranger Calls in August 2004, with Jake Wade Wall penning the script. Screen Gems had plans to release both a remake of the original film and a sequel titled When a Stranger Returns.[3][4]


Evan Rachel Wood was offered the role of Jill, but turned it down. Camilla Belle was then approached and almost turned the role down due to her personal dislike for horror films but West, the director, convinced her that he was going more for a psychological thriller and so she accepted. To prepare for the role, Belle had to do two months of weight-training and learning how to run. Belle was injured twice on the set; she struck a wooden bridge, cutting and scarring her hand, and also slammed her head against a glass window.[5][6][7]


Principal photography occurred from January 1 to February 28, 2005, in Vancouver, Canada. Bellarmine-Jefferson High School was used to portray the high school seen in the film while Signal Hill was used to portray the carnival shown in the film. Running Springs was used as the filming location for the road sequences. The house that was used in the film is located at Culver Studios in Culver City, California.



When a Stranger Calls: The Complete Original Motion Picture Score
Film score
ReleasedFebruary 10, 2006
GenreFilm score
LabelSony BMG Music Entertainment
ProducerJames Dooley

When a Stranger Calls: The Complete Original Motion Picture Score, 15-instrumental songs composed by James Dooley, was released on February 10, 2006.

When a Stranger Calls: The Complete Original Motion Picture Score
1."Main Title"00:04:51
2."Fateful Drive"00:02:57
3."The House"00:03:43
5."Have You Checked the Children"00:05:11
7."Knock Knock Who There"00:07:18
8."Curtain Call"00:03:14
9."60 Seconds"00:03:39
10."Inside the House"00:04:12
13."Police Station"00:02:44
14."Lunatic Asylum"00:03:58
15."End Credits"00:02:42
Total length:01:00:35


For the release of the film, AOL Instant Messenger ran ads beckoning users to IM Jill020306. When messaged, "Jill" (a Colloquis-style program) made small talk before panicking, as she received calls from a stranger asking her to check the children. She then gives the user her phone number (a toll-free 877 number) and asks them to call her. When users call, they hear an ad for the movie. Also, around the time of the DVD release, a new screen name appeared, Jill051606, to tie in with the DVD release date on May 16, 2006. It does not involve calling her, but instead she directs users to a video security system on the official DVD site where the shadow of the stranger passes by frequently.

As a marketing promotion for the film, a MySpace profile was created for Jill051606 featuring photos from the film. Users could add the profile as a friend, leave comments, and read Jill's blog.

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and UMD on May 16, 2006. Special features include two audio commentaries (one with Camilla Belle and Simon West; the other with Jake Wade Wall), deleted scenes, a 20-minute making-of featurette, and trailers. A Blu-ray version of the film was released for the first time by Mill Creek Entertainment on October 4, 2016 in a triple feature with I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and Vacancy (2007). This disc contains none of the extras found on the DVD.[8] This initial release was discontinued, and a new version was released by Mill Creek titled "Queens of Scream - Triple Feature" on February 5, 2019. The new release is virtually identical, with the only differences being a new cover on the case and the inclusion of a DVD copy alongside the Blu-ray.[9]


Box office[edit]

The film opened at number one with $21.6 million.[10] It then made $9.1 million in its second weekend and $5 million in its third.[11] The film went on to gross a total of $47.9 million domestically, and $19.2 million internationally for a total worldwide gross of $67.1 million.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

When A Stranger Calls was critically panned. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 9% based on 93 reviews and an average rating of 3.5/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "When a Stranger Calls ranks among the more misguided remakes in horror history, offering little more than a rote, largely fright-free update to the original."[12] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 27 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews."[13] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale.[14]


In 2006, When a Stranger Calls was nominated to the Golden Trailer Awards in the category "Best Thriller".[15]

Possible sequel[edit]

Screen Gems was initially planning to make a sequel rumored to be titled When a Stranger Returns with Hayden Panettiere set to star as the babysitter, in light of the film's box office success.[16][17][unreliable source?][better source needed][dubious ] This sequel never materialized.

Writer Jake Wade Wall discussed the possibility of a sequel in September 2020. His treatment would have the film be a remake of the second half of the original film, where Jill Johnson is older now and has a family and the killer has escaped the asylum, citing the success of Halloween (2018) as an inspiration.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "When a Stranger Calls (2006)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "When a Stranger Calls (2006)". Box Office Mojo.
  3. ^ LaPorte, Nicole (August 10, 2004). "'Stranger' redials". Variety. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  4. ^ Balchack, Brian (August 11, 2004). "Screen Gems plans remakes of When a Stranger Calls and it' sequel When a Stranger Returns". MovieWeb. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  5. ^ Lee, Michael J. (February 2, 2006). "Camilla Belle on 'When a Stranger Calls'". RadioFree.com.
  6. ^ Fienberg, Daniel (February 5, 2006). "Camilla Belle answers 'When a Stranger Calls'". Daily Herald.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "What Would You Do When a Stranger Calls?". MovieWeb. February 3, 2006.
  8. ^ "Horror Triple Feature Blu-ray (I Know What You Did Last Summer / When a Stranger Calls / Vacancy)". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  9. ^ "Queens of Scream - Triple Feature Blu-ray (I Know What You Did Last Summer / When A Stranger Calls / Vacancy)". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  10. ^ "Domestic 2006 Weekend 5". Box Office Mojo. February 3–5, 2006.
  11. ^ "When a Stranger Calls". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  12. ^ "When a Stranger Calls (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  13. ^ "When a Stranger Calls (2006) Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  14. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "When a Stranger Calls" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  15. ^ "Best Thriller (GTA7/2006) | Nominees Categories | Golden Trailer Awards". Goldentrailer.com. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  16. ^ "Useless Horror Movie Trivia: Cancelled Sequels Edition". Horror Society. November 18, 2016. Retrieved June 8, 2023.
  17. ^ "A Stranger Calls (2006): New Netflix Inclusion and What to Know Before Watching it?". Gizmo Story.
  18. ^ Jenkins, Jason (September 18, 2020). "'When a Stranger Returns': Writer Jake Wade Wall Dials Up Details On His Unmade Sequel [Phantom Limbs]". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved June 27, 2021.

External links[edit]