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"That's not my ringtone..."
The phone is ringing. Dear God, THE PHONE IS RINGING! The camera slowly closes in on the phone. The noise is deafening. Cut to the protagonist, who has terror in her eyes. She answers the phone. "Hello?!"
Roughly half the time, the call is not from who she thought it would be (instead being, say, someone who wants to switch her long distance or some equivalent of a Cat Scare
This guarantees the second call, immediately afterward. She picks up the phone and says, "I'M HAPPY WITH MY LONG DISTANCE, DAMMIT".
Then she hears the voice of evil on the other end of the line.
If upon answering the phone, she hears dead air, she is required to say, "It's dead," and someone else is then required to say
, "Could you please
not put it that way?"
One specific variant of this trope that now lives in Urban Legend
territory is The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House
The phone might also be a Supernatural Phone
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Anime & Manga
- Stephen King's original idea for the phone in "Fourteen Oh Eight" was actually more disturbing than that used on film — the voice, as described in the original short story, doesn't so much resemble a human being as an electric razor that has learned to talk. His performance of it in the audiobook is memorable, to say the least.
Phone: This is nine! Nine! This is nine! Nine! This is ten! Ten! We have killed your friends! Every friend is now dead! This is six! Six! ... Eighteen! This is now eighteen! Take cover when the siren sounds! This is four! Four! ... Five! This is five! Ignore the siren! Even if you leave this room, you can never leave this room! Eight! This is eight! ... Six, this is six This is goddamn fucking six!
- In The Regulators (also by Stephen King, or rather Richard Bachman) we have the Tak phone, which is not easily described but may well be the most subtly frightening example of the trope ever.
- Also also by Stephen King, there is "Sorry, Right Number", in which the phone isn't precisely evil, but creepy.
INT. THE PHONE It lies on the carpet, looking both bland and somehow ominous. CAMERA MOVES IN TO ECU- the holes in the receiver once more look like huge dark chasms. We HOLD, then FADE TO BLACK.
- ALSO also also by Stephen King is the novel Cell, in which cell phones initiate a Zombie Apocalypse.
- In Dean Koontz's Phantoms, the titular phantom likes doing this to the protagonists.
- In Spellbent, Jessie's cellphone briefly behaves this way while she's in close proximity to a Hell Gate.
- Are You Afraid of the Dark? had the "Phone Police" and their insane prisoner Billy Baxter.
- Used in the Doctor Who two-parter "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", with the Empty Child's ability to control things like radios and telephones. When he takes over the TARDIS' Police Box telephone (NOT the Trimphone seen on the console, but the one all normal Police Boxes had in the door), the Doctor is perturbed and notes, "Ringing? What's that about, ringing? You're not even a real phone and you're ringing?!"
- "Father's Day" had the Doctor receive creepy, cryptic speech... that turned out to be the first phone call ever. It was the first sign that they officially broke time.
- Also, in "The Impossible Planet", Rose gets a call from the Devil himself on her cellphone, which understandably freaks her out a bit.
- This appears quite often in the Classic Series. For instance, the First Doctor was attacked with a sort of hypnotising beam sent via phone.
- Tales from the Darkside featured an episode written by Stephen King in which a woman receives an unsettling phone call from a frantic woman, which turns out to be herself in the future, after her husband has suddenly died.
- Tales also had an episode where a woman is annoyed by a constantly ringing phone in the apartment next to hers. Later this escalates to what sounds like someone in the apartment trying to break through her bedroom wall. Finally she steels her nerves and goes over there...
- Spoofed in The Kids in the Hall. A guy refuses to answer the phone. Reasoning it must be a wrong number. But as the phone keeps on ringing, it causes increasing hysteria in his friends. They convince themselves that something sinister about the call. "Or it's a very wrong number. 42 rings? What kind of FREAK is sitting there by that phone?"
- The Unbidden gives us the Fear-Powered Cell Phone, a phone that has Awakened and which draws charge from paranoia. It sends itself text messages that attempt to scare its current owner; however, it also sends itself texts that give very good advice, so that the owner comes to trust it.
- Subverted in Ghost Trick; Sissel can possess phones and use the phone lines for transportation, but cannot talk to people through them, even if they're holding the receiver or calling the phone he's possessing.
- The Silent Hill series has had several Evil Phones, and a few merely spooky ones.
- The Suffering and it's sequel. Sometimes nearby phones ring. Don't answer. Don't even pickup the non-ringing ones.
- On rare occasions, you need to pick them up anyway to advance the story, and on even rarer occasions, they're helpful. Granted, the help comes from Doctor Killjoy, and usually only in the "Good" morality; but those rare bits of necessity can unfortunately instill a similar response for every other phone...
- Eternal Darkness has this as one of the Sanity-based freak outs. "Remember me, Alex?"
- Phantasmagoria 2 when you call yourself or your murdered coworkers.
- In Sierra's Shivers 2, the villain would often call to gloat and give you unsettling messages whenever you moved to a different room or building. Extra creepiness came from the implication that he must have been watching you (or following you) very closely to know where to call each time.
- Deus Ex: Shortly after arriving in Paris, JC Denton enters an empty office with the phone ringing. Upon answering the phone, he has a short, cryptic conversation with Icarus. The use of the phone can be assumed to be pure Mind Screw on Icarus' part since he can (and does) message directly to JC in other points of the game.
- Max Payne: "Is this the Payne residence?"
- You can be one, briefly, in Geist, in order to scare a janitor so you can possess him.
- Answering a certain phone in FEAR: Extraction Point will result in an Alma scream that shakes the room.
- In Batman: Arkham City Victor Zsasz begins a series of serial killings in which he calls random payphones and kills whomever answers them. In Batman's case he makes him track down another payphone somewhere else or else he kills innocents.
- A variant in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, when Phoenix gets angry at (by then revealed to be the big villain) Matt for phoning him.
(Phoenix's phone rings)
Phoenix: (Auugh! It's that Engarde again!) (Answers) Would you stop calling me already?!
Gumshoe: ...You're kinda mean, pal...
Phoenix: GAH! Detective Gumshoe! I'm really, really sorry!
- At the end of the first arc of Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Natsuhi, Battler, George, and Jessica are holed up in Kinzo's study. The phone lines have been cut, as they discovered some time before when attempting to contact the police. While they're all sitting there in tense silence, all of a sudden, the phone rings. One of them goes over and picks it up... and all they hear is Maria singing creepily in the distance.
- Also near the end of the fourth arc, after Jessica, George, and Maria are sent off, the phone rings, and greets Battler with..."Congratulations."
- In the fifth arc, Natsuhi receives calls from 'the man from nineteen years ago', who blackmails her into incriminating behaviors. He continues to call even after the mainland lines are down. There are no other clues regarding him in any other arc, so it can't be certain that he is who he claims, or that he wasn't just Natsuhi's lie or delusion.
- The Billy Goat Caller, a short film by Dom Fera of Lazer Collection fame, features a rather creepy prank caller.
- The Board James review of Dream Phone features James receiving creepy, threatening calls through the game's toy phone even after he removes the batteries. Then people start dying. Turns out to be a literal Evil Phone as the toy phone itself was making the calls and comitting the murders.
- In the Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse episode "A Spooky Sleepover", a scary story Nikki tells during Barbie's Slumber Party gets interrupted by Raquelle's phone ringing. When Raquelle answers it, she learns that her hair appointment was cancelled!
- Spoofed in an episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy. In "Sorry, Wrong Ed", Eddy gets a phone that Rolf desperately wants to get rid of. As soon as Eddy gets the phone, it starts ringing... without being plugged in, and every time he (or anyone else!) picks up the receiver, something bad happens to him.