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One Missed Call (JAPAN 2003)

Director : Takashi Miike
Cast : Kou Shibakashi, Shin’ichi Tsutumi, Kazue Fukiishi, Renji Ishibashi, Goro Kishitani and Anna Nagata.

People mysteriously start receiving voicemail messages from their future selves, in the form of the sound of them reacting to their
own violent deaths.

by Edward Tang

I hate horror films (I just wanted to get that off my chest). Now, I was surprised that I was at least entertained by this film, which is more or less a ripoff of Ringu. But was that the point? I’ve read recently that Takashi Miike did this fact on purpose, he did it for the fact that every new horror artist makes something that basically rips off Ringu in some fashion. So why not? Takashi Miike, still the king of obscure and utterly hilarious flicks should purposely make a ripoff of this certain type of flick that has been literally beat into the ground.

The result is an entertaining but ultimately shallow horror flick that really doesn’t improve the genre. Sure the flick made some good buck, and even warranted a sequel that I have heard is basically the same quality as this. But aside from a few interesting points and the ending (which proves the theory made by others that this is just Miike’s parody of sorts), this film really has nothing going for it, especially since the director has done so many excellent flicks over the years (Visitor Q? Ichi the Killer? Gozu? Fudoh? Excellence), this one is out there for some dollars. But if you’ve got about 2 hours to kill and you don’t mind watching a generic toad jump in one spot, you should get something out of this. Hell, there’s already a remake in progress, which probably will suck, so this film will be even better in my mind! Bonus!

The story is Ringu-ish and falls into that category immediately. Look at the plot, we got people getting whacked after they get a message on their cellphone….that’s in their voice! Spooky! So we follow the average territory as people get killed after getting a call from themselves, and of course there’s one girl who needs to find out the truth! She of course gets the call, but not before doing some research on who and what is actually killing all these people. Then we are introduced to a revenge plot of sorts, a girl died and she’s killing all these people because her mother let her die! GRAVY! See, nothing that seems unique or special, whether that was Miike’s point or not, I still think he should have focused on his greatness. Not much black humor or awesome gore here, so it really doesn’t feel like a Miike film. Hell if you told me he directed this without my knowledge of that information, I’d tell you to go fuck yourself. Now if Miike made an attempt to make fun of this genre by tearing it apart and making fun of it in the process, I would have been on board. But alas, that doesn’t happen and even the best of directors gotta pay the bills sometimes. (Note: Money is awesome)

Yeah, since we follow the typical trail of fecal matter for the story, you’ve gotta match that up with the images. Who’s the evil force in this flick? A little girl whose a little creepy and doesn’t mind to kill people? YESSSS! Literally, I don’t see why they use little kids. Take for example: if you were walking down a street at the middle of the night, who would you be scared of? A man with a hockey mask and meat cleaver or a little girl in a school uniform with a weird face? I wouldn’t be afraid of either because I’m a man, but you get where I’m going. They just don’t show any threat to me, whether they are ghosts or whatever. Then along with that, we are given the same topic used in most Japanese horror films: Revenge. Yes, all of the mystical killers have been wronged in some way, but they’ll kill you even if you had nothing to do with it, you’ll be thrown off a cliff or tossed down an elevator chute. Then we get a bunch of floating people, quick shots to body parts, and a few charred up bodies to hopefully get us interested in the events. Sadly, if you’ve discovered any bit of Japanese horror, you’ll have already explored the types of images in One Missed Call.

Although the film follows the same path as others, it does have some moments that still can get your blood boiling. Though this film really wasn’t overly gory, there was enough crap to get you through if you enjoy seeing corpsy people walking around and just being creepy, you’ll get a kick out of this film. Another thing is that I was rarely uninterested in the film. I didn’t get anything in return for my interest but at least the film had something to keep me watching. There are some down moments in the film, especially in the beginning, that’s usually the worst part of any horror film. Then there was that tune they got for the alternate ring tone that the dead girl used to call all of her victims. The tune was creepy and worked for the most part. It’s a shame that they couldn’t build upon these few things because I could see a better than average film coming out with Takashi Miike on the helm. But we never reach this and simply fall into the average cage (Don’t feed the animals). I did keep my interest during this film but didn’t get anything to surprise me or just make feel that this film succeeded in a new direction.

The acting is pretty much basic for a film like this. You’ve got your typically boring cast, a bunch of pretty young people who can scream on cue and can sell the part of a somebody who is being chased by creepy ghosts. What the fuck am I trying to say? Basically, I didn’t see any good performances that would make them memorable. Anybody have a problem remembering the name Tequila if you’ve seen Hard Boiled? Nope. That’s when a character works, but in something like this you can’t tell one person from another. So as everything falls into place, a bunch of creepy images grab us and throw us around we reach the ending. The girl has a knife in her hand, standing above a guy in a hospital bed. We stay on her face and she gives a big smile, and with that a really pop-like song hits the air and we fall into the credits. That scene alone seemed out of place but makes me think that Miike can make a ripoff and do it with a smile.

I don’t know what One Missed Call offers to the viewer, if you like Japanese horror flicks, this should please you.

Plot : 2/5
Acting : 2/5
Entertainment : 3/5
Overall : 2/5

Notable Scenes
- Some of the odd deaths and the corny ending.

Buy this movie at  YesAsia – One Missed Call

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