Have you ever answered the phone to hear nothing but silence? No verbal response from whomever is calling you, but maybe you can hear them breathing. Click, they're gone. Or are they? How would you feel if this happened to you several times at night when you're alone, or in a stranger's house babysitting? Well, below are just ten horror movies that use the scary phone trope. Time to check the Caller ID.
|When a Stranger Calls (1979)
A babysitter in charge of two kids starts to receive menacing phone calls. The police trace the calls to a secondary line in the house. The babysitter barely escapes with her own life after an intruder, who has already killed the children, reveals his whereabouts within the house. Years later, the detective on the unsolved case searches for the man upstairs while the babysitter tries to move on with her life.
This movie, based on the classic urban legend, has one of the most perfectly chilling openings in a horror movie ever, but the middle portion of the movie is tedious and uninteresting. The film was followed by an overall more engaging TV-made sequel in 1993, When a Stranger Calls Back, and an adequate if not tame 2006 remake.
|Black Christmas (1974)
The remaining sisters in a sorority house during Christmas break are terrorized by a madman over the phone. One by one, the young women then start to disappear...
Halloween is credited to be the first slasher by many, but four years before that even came out, this darkly humorous and twisted movie from the director of A Christmas Story was released. There isn't a big body count, and the ending is unresolved. Yet Black Christmas retains a sinister charm even after all these years. The movie was loosely remade in 2006 with one of the actors from the original, Andrea Martin, playing a different character.
|Prom Night (1980)
A group of high school students receive ominous phone calls before the prom. They are then attacked by a masked assailant during said event.
This Halloween inspired mystery with Jamie Lee Curtis was disliked by many critics, but like most horror movies, Prom Night was critic proof and it made a good chunk of money at the box office. Over the years, complaints of the movie's pacing and lack of kills until halfway in have been combatted with an undying sense of nostalgia. Regardless of its supposed flaws, Prom Night is considered a classic slasher by many fans of the subgenre. There are three sequels, which are unrelated except for taking place at the same school, and a very tension-less remake released in 2008.
|Out of the Dark (1989)
A clown-masked killer calls and kills the operators at a phone sex hotline.
This 1989 erotic horror is pretty sleazy. If you can accept that and decide to watch it, there are some decent scares to be found in Out of the Dark. This movie features Divine's last role.
A reporter investigates a local myth about a cursed videotape. After watching the a copy of the tape, viewers will receive a phone call. They will then die seven days later.
Outside of the 2002 remake with Naomi Watts, this is the most well-known adaptation of Koji Suzuki's first novel in a series of books. Hideo Nakata's theatrical version, and as a result the 2002 Hollywood remake, is not a very close adaptation of the source material. The 1995 TV movie Ring: The Complete Series is more accurate in that regard. However, Nakata's rendition is a creepy slow burn that manages to have more organic mood than Gore Verbinski's Ring.
A small town is subjected to a serial killing spree after a teenager is slain in her own home by a masked killer with a penchant for vintage scary movies.
The '90s horror film industry was struggling. There was only a handful of horror movies from the early part of that decade that general audiences today remember. Then in 1996, this little movie by Wes Craven changed all of that. It set off a chain reaction and revitalized the dying genre. It is no wonder it has become such a critic darling as well as a fan favorite. Controversial opinion: Scream has suffered a bit from being such a product of its time. The script tries a bit too hard to be to hip as it's littered with Kevin Williamson-isms. Not to mention the protracted killer's reveal that borders on Scooby-Doo quality writing. Minor quibbles aside, it is is a very entertaining movie that is undoubtedly iconic. Without it, who knows what fate would have come for the horror genre otherwise. There are three sequels and an unrelated TV series. Director Wes Craven passed away in 2015.
|Babysitter Wanted (2008)
A religious young woman attending college takes a job babysitting at a rural farmhouse. Throughout the night, she receives strange phone calls before an unexpected guest arrives.
While this may sound like a When a Stranger Calls rehash, the movie takes a drastic and unexpected turn at the halfway point. The less said about the twist, the better.
Three women that used to be childhood friends are abducted separately by someone from their past.
This slasher is not good by any means, but the set designs and above average production values make it more memorable than it deserves to be. Amusement is told in an anthology style where all three segments are connected. The second part has one of the heroines coming home to a life-sized clown in her room full of other clown dolls. To her shock, her relative confirms on the phone that they don't own a big clown. This is without a doubt the most suspenseful and the creepiest story in Amusement.
|Don't Hang Up (2016)
Two pranksters are targeted by someone that knows everything about them.
It's usually women being harrassed in these types of movies, but for once, the guys are getting tortured. The protagonists are not likable whatsoever so audiences won't feel sympathy. Yet the movie is short and packed with enough action to keep one entertained for about eighty minutes.
|The Caller (2011)
Mary moves into a new apartment and starts her life over after divorcing her abusive husband. She receives calls from another woman, Rose, that appears to be troubled emotionally. Mary starts to realize that there is something peculiar about Rose and how she is connected to her.
The Caller was a slept on movie that hardly anyone paid attention to at the time of its release. Which is a shame as it has a different spin on the phone terror theme. One that other horror movies have really yet to expand upon. The movie ends up more like an expanded episode of The Twilight Zone, but there are some scary moments, too. Stephen Moyer and Luis Guzmán co-star with Rachelle Lefevre.
What kind of cell phone do you own?
Two cans on a string
I don't own a phone
Have you ever made a prank call before?
Do you like/dislike talking on the phone, ONTD?
[Other entries in my ONTD Original™ - Halloween Edition series]
- 13 Vintage YA Thrillers About Secrets, Lies & Confessions
- Collective Names for 13 Animals & More As Seen in Horror
- 15 Bullies & Mean Girls in Horror
- The Horror Filmography of the 'Gossip Girl' Cast
- 35 Road Thrillers and Horror Movies
- 20 Cryptids & Mythological Creatures Found in Movies & TV
- 13 Tips to Help You Fight a Slasher Villain
- 20 Thrillers About Dangerous Obsessions