Sunday, May 4, 2008

Movie review: One Missed Call

Hollywood has done it again, remaking an R-rated Japanese horror flick, Chakushin ari into a watered-down PG-13 boo-movie. I’ve not seen the 2003 original but I’ll venture to say that One Missed Call pretty much missed the mark.

The story is this: young and pretty people – purportedly college students but none of them live in dorms and the one house we see is pretty swank for off-campus housing – receive mysterious voicemails from themselves sent from the future right at the moment of their upcoming, unavoidable deaths. The heroine, played woodenly by Shannon Sossamon, becomes concerned as her friends are picked off one by one and enlists a handsome and sympathetic cop (Edward Burns) to get to the bottom of the mystery. Throw in some off-screen child abuse, a flickery ghost or two, a haunted hospital and an unsatisfying ending, and you’ve got yourself a movie!

I feel as though there were some missed opportunities in One Missed Call. The cast is pretty strong for this genre: besides the aforementioned Sossamon and Burns it includes Azura Skye, Jason Beghe, Margaret Cho and the always fun Ray Wise in a cameo as a sleazy reality television producer. The supporting cast did a good job but Sossamon had the same dazed expression on her face for the whole movie and Burns was clearly just phoning it in.

Since this American version is rated only PG-13, there is obviously no gore and very little violence, much of it done off-screen. I jumped once, at the very beginning as the first victim was dragged by her face into a koi pond, but that was it for the startle-scares. In addition, it seemed as though the filmmakers couldn’t decide what sort of horror film they wanted to make: some of the deaths were by “accident” a la Final Destination (falling off a train platform, getting impaled by rebar) while others were clearly supernatural, brought on by the vengeful ghost. The ghost just wasn’t that scary, however; by now, American audiences are so over the flickering, stuttering, creepily hooded Asian-derived spirit. We want a new boogeyman.

As far as the DVD itself, there are zero extras. There are several previews and you can choose between a wide-screen and a standard-screen view. That’s it.

Neither as scary nor interesting as The Ring (or even The Grudge), One Missed Call is a movie I wish I’d missed altogether.

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