When A Stranger Calls/Dooley

August 8, 2006

“When A Stranger Calls” follows a progression of being a remake of a film which had a sequel called “When A Stranger Calls Back,” both the original from (1979) and the remake in (1993) featured Carol Kane and Charles Durning with original scores by Dana Kaproff. The remake still uses much of the same screenplay from Steve Feke’s (1979) story which tells the story of a nightmare baby sitting assignment, starting with phone calls and then realizing that the calls are actually coming from the house where she is babysitting! Camilla Belle, the babysitter in the film, is not yet 20 years old and has already performed in 21 films. Directed by Simon “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” West, the film grossed 21 million on the first weekend making back the entire budget for the film setting a record for a film opening on Superbowl weekend. Before DVD sales, the film had already grossed over 47 million dollars in the US. The soundtrack by James Dooley was released at the same time of the DVD release through Lakeshore. There was quite a procedure involved by James for the making of this soundtrack including several scoring sessions with first the Prague and later the Northwest Sinfonia orchestra, creating aleatoric samples, sessions for string only with celli and basses, and a 50 piece string only session. The mastering, done by Louie Teran, was well done and something that likely took a while to do.

The music itself is quite atmospheric and fits the tension, terror, and suspense of the film quite well. This is what much of the sixty minutes of music is all about a lot of underscore. My very first time going through the score promptly caused me to put the cd on the bottom of the pile with the comment that it would be reviewed later. Two months went by and a small capsule review and then my honesty took over. I said I would do it and do it is what I am doing right now. Dooley, I feel, has the advantage of being able to take full advantage of the Media Ventures company he works for, thus the elaborate crafting of the score. For certain the primary purchaser of this CD is going to be the target audience (young teenage girl) who has seen the film. I think that it was very shrewd that Sony released this picture when they did. Younger women will have little interest in watching the superbowl and their father was quick to open the pocketbook with some money to get them out of the house to watch a scary movie while the big game was going on. The big surprise for me was the last track “Aftermath” which has a harp with some percussion, triangle etc. designed to sound like a musical box. And there is a simple but effective melody carried by the celli and bass in a cue that sounds like there has been some resolution in the story. This is one track that is extremely well done! Now one could go to the lakeshore web site and download this one cue. Of course if you truly enjoyed the film you will want the whole thing. My usual complaint stands in regard to lack of liner notes but then I have to remember that teenage girls don’t care about recording notes, a word from the composer or producer, or come to think of it this article itself. Unlimited budget and a horror fan will want it. James, who studied under Chris Young, learned well. If you like the film you will like the score. If you are on a budget and not a horror fan just download the “Aftermath” track.

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