When a Stranger Calls (15)

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The Independent Culture

Remember Scream's opening set piece, with Drew Barrymore as a home-alone schoolgirl being phoned by a serial killer? The question is: can that 10-minute prologue be stuffed with enough padding to make a full-length film? And the answer is: no, it can't. Set in a stupidly vast modernist mansion where the stupidly well-groomed Camilla Belle is babysitting, this bloodless slumber-party fodder has no plot or character development, so while we're waiting for the killer to get around to attacking her, we have to sit through endless scenes of her being frightened by noises which turn out to be innocuous, and being phoned by people who aren't the killer. By the time Belle has been rung by a friend, a boyfriend, a prankster and the house's owners, I suppose we should be grateful that no one's called to ask if she's considered changing her electricity supplier.

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