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(2006), PG-13 ["Hard" PG-3*] (1hr 22min)

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
February 8, 2006
57 out of 100

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Christian Long Distance

(This section may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2006), PG-13 ["Hard" PG-13*] -- Jill Johnson has been disobedient with her cell phone.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Screen Gems Inc., Davis Entertainment
Distribution (US): Screen Gems Inc.
Director(s): Simon West
Producer(s): Paddy Cullen, John Davis, Wyck Godfrey, Ken Lemberger
Screenplay: Jake Wade Wall
1979 Screenplay, Steve Feke, Fred Walton
Cinematography/Camera: Peter Menzies Jr.
Music: James Michael Dooley
Film Editing: Jeff Betancourt
Casting: Nancy Nayor
Production Design: Jon Gary Steele
Art Direction: Gerald Sullivan
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

If time and funds become available, I may conduct an analysis of the 1979 version of this film for comparison to see whether the morality content has worsened over 27 years. I think this likely since we have become so drugged by and addicted to the narcotics of extremes in and as entertainment that what once was morally unacceptable has become morally invisible.

The story opens with a carnival in Buford, Colorado in the Elan Valley. As images of frivolity and merriment drift across the screen, ominous and foreboding music and sound effects paint the mood in contrast to the imagery ... an effective emotion manufacturing device. Even Managing Editor, David Kupelian, author of the best-selling book, The Marketing of Evil is wise enough to recognize this by his eloquent commentary on Brokeback Mountain: And believe me, skilled directors and actors can manufacture emotion by the truckload. It's what they do for a living.

You say movies don't influence people? The American Medical Association disagrees. The American Psychological Association disagrees. The American Academy of Pediatrics disagrees. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry disagrees. The American College of Physicians disagrees. [Ref: Joint Statement...] God disagrees. [1 Cor. 15:33] And I disagree.

As the film descends deeper into sensory darkness, a figure is yanked from casting a shadow on the window drapes of a modest two-story home. Once Detective Hines (Steve Eastin) arrives, the unnerving suggestion is of massive and heinous gore as he scans the room. First around the floor then slowly up the walls. As Hines scans the room and as the police carry off blood-stained body bags apparently filled with the parts of a murder victim, Eastin's expressive talents make clear to the audience the gravity of the situation. I fully expected the writers to have Hines launch his lunch at the sight of the implied gore but they didn't. He almost did but didn't.

In another part of town at the local high school, teenager Jill Johnson has been disobedient with her cell phone, narrowly avoiding a teacher discovering the phone in her locker. Not only is Jill disobedient with it at school, her father is miffed at her disobedience with the cell phone minutes limit. At least her father (Clark Gregg), who pays for the phone and its minutes, holds her responsible for its use. The nerve of him! Jill blames the excessive cell phone time on her ex-boyfriend, Bobby (Brian Geraghty) who kept calling her and talking for so long. But doesn't it take two to carry on cell phone conversations? For over 800 minutes? Eight hundred minutes over the limit?

As a disciplinary measure, Jill must not only miss the bonfire the high school is holding, she must babysit for Will and Allison Mandrakis (Arthur Young, Madeline Carroll), the young children of Dr. Tim and Lisa Mandrakis (Derek de Lint, Kate Jennings Grant). Dr. Mandrakis and Lisa are headed out for some high priority affair.

There is a positive note here. Even though Jill was being punished and must miss a high school fling because of her misdeeds, she was mature and responsible in her duties in caring for the children.

The Mandrakis' live in a luxurious lakeside high-tech three-story house that has a closet bigger than Jill's bedroom. The housekeeper, Rosa Ramirez (Rosine 'Ace' Hatem) lives on the third floor. The Mandrakis home even has a guest house. Todd, Dr. Mandrakis' son from a previous marriage who is never seen, occasionally spends the weekend at home from college. When he does, he stays in the guest house. Their home even has lighting that comes on as someone enters a room and goes out as they leave. And in the middle of the main house is an enclosed aviary over a fish pond large enough to have a bridge over it. So opulent was the house that when Mr. Johnson arrived at the Mandrakis house with Jill, he commented "Maybe I should have been a doctor."

Since Rosa is at the Mandrakis home when Jill reports to babysit Will and Allison, Mrs. Mandrakis warns Jill that she is to expect some minor noises as she sits for the children. But soon, Rosa disappears and leaves her cleaning cart in a hallway and the bird and fish food lying in the aviary. Rosa disappears, but the minor noises don't.

A soon as Dr. and Mrs. Mandrakis leave the prank calls begin. At first, it is just a friend of Jill's ex-boyfriend antagonizing Jill. Even when Jill's BFF, Tiffany Madison (not credited) appears at the Mandrakis home to keep Jill company (and to swipe some Tequila) the annoying phone calls continue. But now the calls are not funny. Not funny at all. Tiffany left the house but never made it off the grounds.

Eventually, when Jill asks the caller what he wants, he tells her "Your blood ... all over me."

After some frantic attempts to get the police involved, through call tracing the police find that the caller is in the house! From there the stranger's heinous hijinks begin as Jill becomes the intended victim in a series of murders by the stranger (Tommy Flanagan but voice of Lance Henriksen).

Now to the good stuff.

The terror/horror content coupled with the violence (the Wanton Violence/Crime (W) investigation area) makes this film clearly equivalent in magnitude to some R-rated films. Since this film was relatively short (82 minutes), the "filthy language" content (the Impudence/Hate (I) investigation area) was found also to be typical of some R-rated films. [Col. 3:8, Isa. 13:11]

The Sexual Immorality investigation area (S) found content limited mostly to dressing to maximize the female form and/or skin exposure plus the use of the camera at an angle to force the viewer on private parts, giving the film a face much like other PG-13 films. [Matt. 5:28, 1John 2:16] And if that were not the intent of the filmmakers, why didn't they have Jill dressed in a loose button-up blouse instead of a skin-tight pullover shirt.

But the other three investigation areas found programming to be equivalent to many G- or PG-rated films.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) found only attempted teen abuse of alcohol, theft of it and "bragging" of drinking/drunkenness as if they are routine which, subjectively speaking, is an extremely bad influence concerning the MPAA rating causing the film to be targeted at the elementary school age stratum. At least the American College of Physicians think so. And so do I. [Eph. 5:18] See the links in the Eph. 5:18 reference below for more information.

Offense to God (O) found a number of uses of God's Name in vain but none with the four letter expletive. [Deut. 5:11] Murder/Suicide (M) found nothing. Note that since no murder was seen in the film, viewing of the murder victims was incorporated into the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area.

While this Summary/Commentary section is indeed a good nutshell description of the content of a film, it cannot even approach the detail of the listing in the Findings/Scoring section. Please inspect it closely before you decide whether to let your kids (which includes at-home teens) or yourself view When a Stranger Calls (2006).


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Col. 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
  • Isa. 13:11 I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. [Yes, it is haughtiness which gives us the impudence to use filthy language.]
  • Matt. 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
  • 1John 2:16 For everything in the world -the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does -comes not from the Father but from the world.
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. ["Wine" can be any intoxicating substance including illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. This issue is do not get intoxicated. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk or to drink in defiance such as underage drinking. A study by the American College of Physicians (ACP) has found an undeniable link between the presentation of alcoholic beverages and tobacco in and as entertainment and abuse of them and arrogance/defiance with them by adolescents. And teaching/causing youth to abuse alcohol/tobacco (or drugs) by emboldening youth with them in and as entertainment invokes Luke 17:2. If alcoholic beverages in entertainment were not a problem for our young, why is there and why has there been such a push to get and keep booze commercials off prime time broadcast TV? Even the University of Connecticut corroborates the ACP finding.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name.]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it].
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away. I suspect "offend" includes sexually abusing the little ones. "Little ones": mikros - little;, small of age; younger which can include at-home teens].
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary/
    Commentary section.

    When a Stanger Calls (2006) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • sequence to set up theme of terror and horror
  • sequence of screams and physical assault
  • implied gore, including the use of body bags
  • constant sense of foreboding/dread
  • explosive startle
  • several prank calls to antagonize
  • sounds of stalking
  • terrorizing behaviors, repeatedly
  • breaking and entering intruder
  • bizarre statue
  • "Your blood ... all over me"
  • murder victim in repeated views
  • increasing sense of terror
  • two children missing
  • confining two small children in a footlocker
  • murder victim underwater
  • attempted murder by drowning
  • physical assault of teen girl, repeatedly
  • animal eating animal
  • attempted murder by choking
  • impalement of fireplace poker through hand

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • nine uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary, 8 of them by a teen
  • sneaking to avoid discovery

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • dressing to maximize the female form and/or skin exposure in high school
  • nudity in oil painting
  • camera angle to force viewer on private parts, repeatedly
  • exposure of below navel skin threatening to expose that which follows

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • teen talk and admission of drinking/drunkenness as if routine
  • teen stealing Tequila from the homeowners while visiting

    Offense to God (O)
  • three uses of God's Name in vain by a teen but without the four letter expletive

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted (viewing a murder victim is incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime)

  • Christian Educators Association International



    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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