5-Word 365 #088 – One Missed Call

It is days like this when I really begin to doubt the wisdom of this challenge. While you read this, I’m going to go watch Pingu or something.

One Missed Call

Let the voicemail get it.

A group of interconnected college students start receiving voicemail messages that contain recordings of their own deaths, days before they occur. The last survivor teams up with the cop brother of one of the early victims to solve the riddle, before they become victims themselves.

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. This film was so pointless and without excitement that I can’t even summon the strength to maul it. It is obvious to me that J-horror movies should be left as they are, since trying to transfer that same mindset into an American film just doesn’t work. What, in the hands of a director like Hideo Nakata or (as in this case) the gloriously deranged Takashi Miike, can scare the ever-loving shit out of you just becomes stale and derivative when filtered through Western ideals. I don’t just mention Nakata randomly, as one of the films this exercise in tedium seemed determined to remind me of was his Ring* except here we get a haunted voicemail message instead of a haunted videotape. See what I mean? Haunted voicemail. Some things just don’t translate.

This is his expression for the entire damn movie. You think I’m kidding?

Billed in the opening credits as based on the book but in the closing credits as based on the Japanese film adaptation of the book, this flick just can’t seem to make its mind up. Unfortunately, its source material is not the only place where it’s a little confuddled. While you are watching this movie it seems like quite an effective little chiller; nice and creepy with a couple of cool deaths thrown in for shits and giggles, but nothing special. Unfortunately the more you think about it, the less it stands up. For instance, I can buy that the evil ghost can manifest enough to have a physical impact on the world (like opening a gate in a fence over a railway line, for example), but when the next kill is a Rube Goldberg-like confluence of gas explosion in a building site across the street leading to some flying rebar, I just want to yell at the thing to pick an influence and stick to it. Are you a vengeful spirit story, or are you a pissed-off omnipotent concept story? You can be either The Grudge 9 or Final Destination 6½, but not both!

How to make a good creepy movie. Rule 1: Put Ray Wise in every damn scene.

The cast. Well, some of them try hard-ish. In that box I’ll put Shannyn Sossamon, Johnny Lewis and the criminally underused Ray Wise. Sossamon really should be in more movies. She’s beautiful without being a show-off about it, and she really tries to sell what’s happening around her and to her. And then there’s Ed Burns. I like Ed Burns. The Brothers McMullan was a cracking debut, and I would put Confidence well inside my all-time Top 50 favourite movies. The man has that laid back, sort of detached way about him that just seems effortlessly cool in the right setting. But when he’s playing a cop whose sister has just died and he’s gone rogue to chase the (dead) culprit with the help of a comely co-ed, he seems like he just doesn’t care. He looks like he doesn’t give a crap and it completely takes you out of the movie. If the leading man couldn’t care less, why should I? And the direction? Well, Eric Valette is no Miike. The whole flick is just flat and predictable, not to mention technically lacking as well. In the big exorcism set-piece for example, I could barely make out what was even happening.

Let’s go watch Sorority Row instead. It’s a bad remake too, but who gives a shit?

Hey look at that. I guess I could summon the strength after all. If you are really in the mood for One Missed Call, do yourself a favour and get the Japanese version. I haven’t even seen it yet myself, but it has two massive points in its favour already. One: it’s a Miike movie, and two: it’s not this piece of shit.

*Even after more than ten years Ring is still about the most terrifying film I have ever seen, and I watched it alone, late at night, on video!

3 comments

  1. Bubbawheat · March 29, 2012

    Oh man, this was a horrible horrible movie. We own the One Missed Call Japanese trilogy on DVD and any of the three are ten times better than this movie. The thing that really put the nail in the coffin is they didn’t reuse the very creepy amazing ringtone used in the Japanese movies and replaced it with something completely forgettable, I don’t even remember if they had a unique ringtone for the death calls or if it was just the phone’s regular ringtone.

    • Ryan McNeely · March 29, 2012

      They used the music box tune that the kid’s bear played. Is the trilogy worth picking up?

      • Bubbawheat · March 29, 2012

        They’re all pretty interesting movies, my wife really loves them. They’re worth it if you enjoy Japanese horror. I don’t actually remember the sequels that well, but I’m pretty sure I enjoyed them, and nothing beats hearing the original ringtone – very creepy.

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