Is Tiffany dead? Who is the killer?
Simon West of “Con Air” celebrates a dark and ambient horror thriller about a home invasion in 2006 “When A Stranger Calls”. The film builds its story on the opening minutes of the cult classic horror of the same name. Fred Walton, who is herself based on the popular urban legend of “the babysitter and the man upstairs.”
The film follows Jill Johnson, a teenage babysitter who falls prey to a dastardly stranger as he calls her to remind her to watch the children. Due to its repeated evocation in popular culture, the story may not be so original, but the film is a fresh take on age-old material. The finish is tense and the end is not just flowers and sun. If questions torment you as the credits roll, this is where we come in. SPOILERS AHEAD.
When a Stranger Calls Plot Synopsis
In a prologue, an exciting funfair lights up the small township of Burford. Babysitter Stacy searches for the children, who have apparently disappeared. Later, local Inspector Hines goes to a crime scene where the babysitter and the three children are dead, and the sight of the massacre is too much for the inspector to bear. Elsewhere in Elan Valley, Jill Johnson struggles to focus on her running practice. Jill’s boyfriend, Bobby, cheated on her with her best friend Tiffany, and even though it was “just a kiss”, according to Bobby, Jill prefers to ignore it for a while.
Meanwhile, Jill has spent her phone allowance and her parents won’t let her go to the bonfire party that all of her friends attend. Instead, Jill keeps the Mandrakis family super rich while her parents leave town to attend a baroque chamber music concert. Kelly Mandrakis gives Jill a quick tour of the residence to speed her up on the alarm system, emergency numbers, and a kitchen full of supplies. They also tell Jill about the maid, Rosa, who has a sick mother, and Todd, Kelly’s stepson, who studies in college and occasionally occupies the guesthouse next to the villa.
Shortly after the Mandrakis couple leave the house, Jill receives strange phone calls. The person on the other end of the phone doesn’t have much to say, and Jill thinks it’s Bobby. The alarm goes off on its own and Jill turns it off. Rosa is seen feeding the fish for a moment until she disappears. Tiffany sneaks into the house unnoticed, and Jill discovers the garage door is open. Tiffany hopes to reconcile with Jill and take her to the bonfire party for a few hours, but she is only joking. While leaving the house, Tiffany is attacked by an invisible threat. After a few more phone calls, Jill realizes that the stranger is spying on her and that he might as well be in the house.
When a stranger calls the end: is Tiffany dead or alive?
In the first half of the story, Jill’s childhood best friend, Tiffany, visits Jill while the latter is busy babysitting. Jill doesn’t understand how Tiffany got in since the doors were locked, but Tiffany reveals that the garage door is open. Their friendship had a rough time after Tiffany’s kiss with Bobby, but Tiffany is relatively calm about it. She reasons that she was drunk while kissing Bobby and discovers a bottle of tequila in the Mandrakis family’s mini-bar.
While Tiffany is typically excited to open the bottle, Jill manages to talk her out of it. She also offers Jill to relax and sneak in with her to the bonfire party, but she isn’t serious about that. Tiffany leaves, but as the rain blurs her vision, Tiffany struggles to unlock her car. She drops the keys and hears nearby footsteps rushing to retrieve them from under the vehicle. However, while driving to the door, she discovers that a fallen tree has closed the exit. At this point, someone attacks her, but as the scene shifts to Jill, we fail to fully understand the incident.
Jill receives a call from Tiffany’s ID, but a male voice speaks. Meanwhile, Jill panics and informs the police of the strange phone calls. She sees the lighted guesthouse window and a person moving behind the curtain. Upon entering the guesthouse, she finds it empty, but a room in the villa lights up in the meantime. Frightened, Jill comes back, walks into the bathroom and finds Tiffany dead. The killer apparently reached Tiffany before Jill could, and she most certainly kicked the bucket at that point. But she doesn’t die in vain, and the bottle of tequila she left on the floor puts it to good use.
Who is the foreigner? How does he get in?
The killer remains a mystery until the last minute, as a voiceover says police failed to identify the killer. However, we learn that the killer has killed 15 people so far and is targeting babysitters during their working nights. The film sets its moody vibe by hiding the killer’s face until the finale. Yet, by cause and effect, we’re pretty sure this is the same serial killer who killed the babysitter and three children in the first incident. Scottish-born actor Tommy Flanagan tried out the role of the invader, while Lance Henriksen of the ‘Alien’ franchise lent his voice to the phone.
In the finale, the killer and Jill go on a cat-and-mouse hunt, and the killer almost grabs Jill. However, Jill breaks the bottle of tequila (she targets the killer’s head but the spleen) and lights the fireplace to distract the attacker. At that point, she nails the assailant’s hand with the fireplace poker, and the police arrive on the scene just in time. The killer’s face appears as the police vehicle escorts him and we see a frightening scar on his left cheek.
His eyes give off a distinct psychopathic vibe, and it becomes clear that the killer has no other motive than to unleash mayhem and kill innocent people for the fun of it. However, you may be wondering how the killer got into the house. He was probably watching the house from before, waiting for a perfect opportunity to knock. Most likely, he slipped through the garage door, much like Tiffany after him.
Is Jill safe?
Following the incident, the killer is arrested by the police. Jill’s presence of mind becomes decisive in capturing the aggressor. The killer is taken into custody, while Jill ends up in hospital after the traumatic course of events. In the final scene, Jill hears a phone ringing at the hospital. The phone stops ringing, Jill closes the door and the killer tries to strangle her from behind. Jill wakes up in her hospital bed screaming in the next shot, and attendants rush to calm her down.
The public may wonder if the killer is really visiting Jill to start the violence and get revenge in the hospital. Still, Jill is more likely to suffer from an acute onset of post-traumatic stress disorder. In this psychological disorder, victims face immense difficulties in recovering from a moment of trauma. They get stuck in the traumatic moment as the memory comes back and haunts them. Jill is thankfully alive after the terrible encounter with the stranger, but the incident appears to be taking its toll on her mental health.
Read more: Where Was When A Stranger Calls (2006) was filmed?