Did you know Judge David Johnson was born in Japan? And not once did he see a crazy-looking ghost girl.
Can you hear me n—ARRRRGHHHHHH!!!
One Missed Call 2 is the Japanese follow-up to Takashi Miike's original J-horror thriller, One Missed Call. What to expect? Sinister phone calls, pale Japanese kids crawling on their stomachs, lots of jump scenes, and the mandatory inclusion of a freaky little girl. You know, the usual.
Facts of the Case
Here's the gimmick: a couple of years ago, an urban legend spread throughout Japan about a mysterious phone call that would hit people's cells. This call was preceded by a distinct and menacing ring-tone, and once the victim answered the call he would hear the last moments of his life. Varying amounts of time later, said victim would meet the predicted demise and the corpses would always be found with hard candy in their mouths.
Unfortunately, this urban legend was true, and it's back. But the curse has mutated (not unlike, say…the bird flu!!!!!). Now the deadly prognostication can affect anyone who answers the phone, as evidenced by the poor sap who picked up his young employee's phone and later took a header into some scalding water. And instead of candy in their mouths, the corpses are found with coal dust in the stomachs. Curious.
Our main protagonist here is the young Kyoko (Mimura), who finds herself in the center of all this mobile madness. Around her, people die in vicious ways, and with the help of her boyfriend and an enterprising journalist, Kyoko embarks on a transnational quest to unlock the secrets of the curse.
I haven't seen the first movie. That's the first thing you should know. And I'm not really a major follower of Japanese horror. That's number two. I've seen a few entries into the genre, mainly through my gig here, but I'm certainly no fanboy. With that out of the way, here's my boiled-down take on One Missed Call 2: not too shabby.
The film builds on its nifty cell phone gimmick (that obviously smells like The Ring), and is able to generate some authentic chills. The whole "hearing-your-final-seconds" curse is pretty cool, and the mystery behind the mumbo-jumbo, while complex and not necessarily coherent, is suitably atmospheric. And though I'm usually for, you know, back stories that make sense, I found the impenetrable convolution of One Missed Call's narrative oddly engaging. "So what if I'm not entirely sure what the hell is happening," I would say to myself. "It's weirding me out."
The elements most responsible for creating dread in my head:
• Weird Gumby mutilation death scene in the shower.
• Emaciated belly-crawling pale-boy.
• The go-to shock icon, Creepy-Ass Little Girl
("Creepy-Ass Little Girl" is a registered trademark of every horror
movie ever made.)
So, yeah, I think there's enough good stuff happening in the film to merit a recommendation. However, such a recommendation needs to be tempered with a few warnings. First, this sucker takes its time. The pacing is very deliberate and the scenes are drawn out for extra suspense. It's a testament to the film that this tactic is fairly effective, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't getting antsy from time to time. Second, there are very few slayings. Gratuitous violence does not a solid horror film make, I know, but One Missed Call 2 opens the festivities with a flurry of mayhem (culminating in that kickass shower-twister scene) then reverts to that slow pace. It took an adjustment to move from "lots of sweet death scenes" Horror Movie Watching Mode to "settle in and absorb the suspense" Horror Movie Watching Mode. Because the movie is well-made, that change didn't ruin the experience, but I could certainly see gorehounds disappointed, especially as the film crests with its violence in the first third.
One Missed Call 2 is released on a two-disc special edition. Disc one includes the feature, rendered well in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The details are clear and the moody atmosphere is effectively transmitted through clean, dark color saturation. Of the four audio tracks—Japanese and English, both with 5.1 and 2.0 mixes—I actually preferred the Japanese stereo with English subtitles. I found this mix louder and more aggressive than the subdued 5.1 treatments. And the dubbing is too cheesy. Stick with the original language and get your reading glasses on.
A few trailers can be found on the first disc, but the meat of the extras lies on disc two, where you'll find a bulky making-of feature with cast interviews, the short film Gomu (three minutes long, showing some guy getting his butt handed to him from the phone curse), and three deleted scenes introduced by the director.
No real complaints from me with this flick. It had some great moments and looks solid, and the curse gimmick is appropriately wild and woolly. The sluggish pacing and tame kill count hurt it a bit, but in the end, One Missed Call 2 delivered.
Not guilty. But lock up that crazy little girl. She frightens me.
Give us your feedback!
Scales of Justice
Studio: Media Blasters
• Making-of Documentary
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.