ONE MISSED CALL (Eric Valette, 2008)
Cell phone radiation and talking while driving are the most commonly mentioned dangers associated with the mobile devices; however, no one ever raises the specter of receiving a portentous call that reveals the precise moment of one's death. ONE MISSED CALL proposes that voicemail messages from the future can be deadly, although using a cell while in the movie theater is probably a more realistic threat to one's well-being. (I'm looking at you, text messagers.)
Like a spammer with a new list of e-mail addresses, an evil spirit is blazing its way through cell phone address books to claim one life after another. The victim gets a call signified by a different ringtone. Caller ID shows the incoming message from the previous victim time stamped a day or two in the future. It's creepy enough to get a call from a deceased friend, but the voicemail, which contains the recipient's final words, is far freakier.
Beth Raymond (Shannyn Sossamon) feels helpless as she watches her friends get picked off during the course of a week. She knows it's only a matter of time until her number is dialed. Police officer Jack Andrews (Edward Burns) determines that his sister was the first victim in the chain, but tracing the source of the calls turns up more questions than answers. As the only believers in the phenomenon--others find it to be mere coincidence--Beth and Jack race to stop whatever malevolent force or being is at play.
The opening credits name Yasushi Akimoto's novel CHAKUSHIN ARI as the film's basis, but it is quite apparent that ONE MISSED CALL is a rip of Takashi Miike's 2003 movie. While it may be clichéd to proclaim the original foreign film to be superior, the fact remains that the Japanese pic contains more scares and intended laughs than this slapdash American remake.
Miike's film is no classic, but the workhorse Asian extreme director invested his version with enough dark humor and the grotesque to keep the conventional material (for him) reasonably entertaining. Eric Valette's ONE MISSED CALL is the latest in a string of J-horror yawners reliant on soundtrack stingers and questionable CGI effects in place of atmosphere and disturbing imagery. Valette's quotation of one of Miike's more striking and humorous images--a severed hand dialing the next victim--is on screen too briefly to register.
To its detriment this streamlined ONE MISSED CALL charges through plot points too. The dialogue is absurdly on the nose while failing to make the proceedings no clearer than they were in the original. The ending is a head-scratcher as well. Both films are similarly confusing plot-wise. In the end, the qualitative difference between the two is like receiving a personal phone call and one from an automatic dialer. The former has a better chance of holding one's attention than the latter.