A delay with the post almost resulted in one missed review. Having watched the film, Judge Paul Pritchard doesn't think that would have been such a bad thing.
"She always gave me candy."
Another day, another remake; this time it's Takashi Miike's Chakushin Ari that gets the dubious honor.
Facts of the Case
Beth (Shannyn Sossamon, The Rules of Attraction), a psychology student, begins to investigate the unexplained deaths of a number of her friends, each of whom received a mysterious phone call. Apparently coming from a day or two in the future, these missed calls give the date and time of the victim's death, along with their last words.
With the help of detective Jack Andrews (Ed Burns, She's the One), whose sister was a victim, Beth begins to trace the calls, hoping to find the source and put a stop to the deaths. As the duo begins to make progress, they find themselves in a race against time when Beth receives (drum roll, please) One Missed Call.
One Missed Call seems quite content to join The Ring, The Grudge, and Pulse in the growing list of watered-down American remakes of J-Horror favorites. Like the aforementioned duds, One Missed Call is a lifeless experience, lacking any inspiration and seemingly happy to offer up a paint-by-numbers horror movie.
Hideo Nakata's slightly overrated, yet hugely influential Ringu has clearly reshaped the horror landscape; its presence felt in every corner of the genre, its ghostly figure complete with long black hair now ingrained in popular culture. Here's the problem: for all the cool imagery and (before it got copied numerous times) interesting premise, it has ushered in a series of horror movies that seem unable to invoke genuine scares. This problem is never more evident than in One Missed Call, a lazy, formulaic Ringu clone.
Throughout the relatively short running time of One Missed Call, two questions kept racing through my head: What reason was there to make this movie? Who saw the worth in putting money into this project? It all seems such a pointless exercise. There's no evidence of any passion on display here, either from the actors or filmmakers, so why should anyone feel compelled to spend their money and time on it? Even worse, the film's plot is so shockingly bad, full of clichés, contrivances, and just plain dumb reasoning for its characters' actions that you'd be right to feel insulted while watching it. There are elements of the film that are vaguely explored but never explained: Is Beth's backstory really needed to help further the plot? What relevance do the freaky faces have, and who in the hell buys there kids dolls that have faces like that? Here's one that's even more puzzling: At what point did anyone think a CGI baby holding a cell phone was going to be scary?
Amazingly the CGI baby isn't the biggest misfire in the movie. Despite a number of contenders, there is one clear winner. During one of the most unintentionally laughable scenes I've ever witnessed, a cell phone receives an exorcism. I kid ye not. I had to pop the Blu-ray disc out of my player to make sure I hadn't put the latest Scary Movie on in error.
Warner Bros. has put out a barebones disc for One Missed Call, which considering the possibilities of the hi-def format, is a more than a little disappointing. On the plus side both the audio and video are excellent. The 1.85:1 1080p transfer is as sharp as a tack and full of rich detail. A veneer of grain remains present throughout with excellent black levels, which is all wasted on such a dire movie.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Apart from the technical specs on the disc, there is no defense for One Missed Call.
I could go on and bemoan the state of the horror genre once again. I could argue about the death of originality due to the seemingly constant stream of remakes, but I won't. Viewing One Missed Call didn't make me angry enough to write any impassioned pleas or a call to arms to save the horror genre. Instead it just washed over me, leaving very little to remember it by. Anyone prepared to search a little outside the mainstream can still find some signs of life in the horror genre. As for One Missed Call, it's just a very poor film. Leave it alone, it will go away eventually.
Please stop calling me.
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