Film Review: When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)

Also known as: When A Stranger Calls 2 (working title)
Release Date: April 4th, 1993
Directed by: Fred Walton
Written by: Fred Walton
Based on: characters by Fred Walton, Steve Feke
Music by: Dana Kaproff
Cast: Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Jill Schoelen, Gene Lythgow, Kevin McNulty

Krost/Chapin Productions, MCA Television Entertainment, Pacific Motion Pictures, Showtime, 94 Minutes

Review:

“I am not the reflection of anything. I am not an illusion. I am the truth. I’m invisible. Unknowable. You people are the real illusionists. You people are the real illusionists!” – William Landis

This movie is basically the inverse of its predecessor.

In the first film, the best part, by far, is the first act. The rest of the film falls pretty flat even though the ending is good and satisfying.

In this film, the first act, which emulates the original movie, is pretty bad. It’s a sequence that has weird logic and is sort of confusing on a first watch. But then the rest of the movie is really damn good and more than makes up for the wonky first act. And with that, I think that this film is better as a total movie, overall.

However, nothing still tops the opening of the original. So, honestly, I think the two films kind of break even and that’s actually kind of fucking cool.

Carol Kane and Charles Durning both returned for this, as did director, Fred Walton. Joining them was Jill Schoelen, who was kind of becoming a scream queen by this point after Stepfather, Popcorn and the Robert Englund starring The Phantom of the Opera.

The cast was good and the director seemed to learn from the mistakes of the first movie and gave us a much better paced film, this time around.

The psycho in this movie is also much better than the original. They got creative with this character and made him a ventriloquist, which was used as a plot device to give him the ability to throw his voice. This ability leads to him making his victim think there are multiple predators. He also uses photographic reference to paint himself in ways that allow him to blend into his environments. It’s kind of clever, honestly, and seeing how it’s utilized in the film makes sense and comes off as plausible.

When A Stranger Calls Back is a better movie than I anticipated it being. Also, for originally being a television movie on Showtime, the finished product is even more impressive.

Rating: 7.75/10