In the tradition of “The Ring,” “The Grudge” and “Dark Water,” “One Missed Call” is yet another moody Japanese ghost story to be adapted for American screens. Originally made by cult director Takashi Miike in 2003 from Yasushi Akimoto’s novel CHAKUSHIN ARI, this American version retains the elements that are sure to please J-Horror fans–jerky apparitions, ghostly children, desperate messages from beyond the grave, possessed electronic devices, and strong female characters. While this remake, which is the debut English-language film from French director Eric Valette, dispenses with some of the freakiness of Miike’s version, the creepiness remains. Shannon Sossamon is Beth, a developmental psychology student who has plenty of cause for concern after her friend Leann (Azura Skye) receives a panicked cell phone message from herself days in the future. After Leann falls in front of a train at the same date and time on the message, Beth suspects that she may be next. Beth’s fear seems even more justified after her friend Taylor (Ana Claudia Talancon) befalls a similar fate as her phone message is being investigated by a reality TV host (Ray Wise) who specializes in unexplained phenomena. With the help of police chief Jack Andrews (Ed Byrnes), Beth discovers a link between the calls and a deceased mother and daughter. A slow burning ghost tale, “One Missed Call” establishes a mood of creepiness before the opening credits and sustains it right through to the conclusion. Instead of major shocks or gore, we’re given subtle glimpses of ghostly figures or slightly distorted faces that are effective in creating unease. Sossamon makes a pleasing heroine, and the always excellent Wise makes the most of his small role. Almost old-fashioned in its restraint, the film is a good candidate for family viewing–and spooky enough to give all but the most jaded horror fan goose bumps.
J-horror, thats what all the hip movie critics are call it. The fact that there is a name proves its all crap from this point forward and I have “One Missed Call” to prove it. Director EricValette does such a great job screwing this up that there isn’t even a sliver of hope that it could have ever been good. Ever since “The Ring,” movie studios have been buying these imported scripts hoping to create theMcDonaldization of cinema. Let someone else do all the work and we’ll make it American–which means more expensive and shittier than the original.
The whole notion of a cursed mobile phone seems as lame as a killer tomato. And those damn tomatoes were a lot scarier, messier, and yes tastier, than “One Missed Call.” The lack of suspense and horror means this is as mundane as any poorly conceived movie drama. I’ve seen scarier episodes of Roseanne. Every moment of the movie appears too well rehearsed, too inorganic and almost never scary. The cast wilts with a lack of direction and talent.
It would be impossible to convince me that any actor involved in this movie thought it could be good. Even a poorly conceived movie can occasionally turn out good. This train-wreck has me wishing that we’d just throw some subtitles in the J-horror movies, or at least hire the guys who do voice-over work for MXC to come and help.