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Eric Valette
Shannyn Sossamon, Edward Burns, Ana Claudia Talancón, Ray Wise, Azura Skye, Johnny Lewis, Jason Beghe, Margaret Cho
Writing Credits:
Andrew Klavan, Yasushi Akimoto (novel, "Chakushin ari"), Minako Daira (screenplay, Chakushin ari)

What will it sound like when you die?

It happens to one. Then another. And another. College students discover eerie voicemail messages on their cell phones. Each call comes from the near future. Each call has the chilling voice of the student during his or her last moments alive. And each call comes true.

Terror is One Missed Call away in this got-your-number shocker based on the hit Japanese thriller Chakushin ari. Does the viral spree of calls have a single source? Is there something that links the victims? Psych student Beth Raymond (Shannyn Sossamon) and detective Jack Andrews (Edward Burns) scramble for answers. And they're working fast. Because Beth just discovered an ominous message.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$12.511 million on 2240 screens.
Domestic Gross
$26.876 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $28.98
Release Date: 4/22/2008

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One Missed Call (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 8, 2008)

Ever since The Ring became a big hit a few years back, moviegoers have encountered more and more American adaptations of Japanese horror flicks. We find another of these via 2008’s One Missed Call. A remake of 2003’s Chakushin ari, Call starts with the mysterious death of 20-something Shelley (Meagan Good). She drowns in a backyard pond, which those of us in the audience know happened because some freaky force yanked her into the drink.

From there we meet psychology student Beth Raymond (Shannyn Sossamon), whose classmate Leann (Azura Skye) was pals with Shelley. Leann gets a spooky call from Shelley days after the girl’s death. When she checks the voicemail, Leann hears her own voice.

From there we encounter Detective Jack Andrews (Ed Burns), a man who just experienced his own tragedy. His sister – another psych student - died out in the woods and rotted for more than a week before anyone discovered her body. Oddly, when he inspects her corpse, he discovers a red hard candy in her mouth.

Back with the students, Leann starts to think she’s cracking up. She sees disturbing hallucinations and soon ends up squished by a train when she “falls” onto the tracks. Beth witnesses this event and sees something even more strange when the flattened Leann makes one last phone call – and the paramedics yank a red piece of hard candy out of her maw!

From there the rumor mill runs rampant about these freaky pre-death phone calls. After Leann’s demise, more folks in Beth’s circle start to undergo problems. The movie follows the terror as well as attempts by Jack and Beth to investigate.

Maybe these Japanese horror flicks lose something in translation. I skipped The Ring, but I know that The Grudge did nothing for me. After my viewing of Call, I’m half-tempted to see Ring and compare it to these others.

But only half-tempted, as Call stinks ever worse than the lame Grudge did. Both went with the same “evil spirit that pursues revenge from the grave” theme, and both failed to do anything memorable with it. Like I said, maybe the Japanese originals managed to create something scary with their themes, but the American remakes flopped.

Though Call makes Grudge look like a horror classic. Only one aspect of Call succeeds: it packs in a lot of hot young women. Sossamon is a babe, and I really like super-sexy Latina Ana Claudia Talancón. The film constantly stuffs her into too-small clothes, but you won’t hear me complain.

Other than this eye candy, Call totally flops. Beyond its moderately clever premise, the story proves relentlessly predictable and leads us down a series of easily anticipated paths. It also throws out elements that seem completely unconnected to the rest of the movie. Why do we get flashbacks to Beth’s childhood trauma? I have no clue, as this factor plays no role whatsoever in the overall tale.

Call suffers badly from a “more is less” factor. Director Eric Valette tries to overwhelm us with stylistic elements. We get tons of creepy audio, spooky music and eerie visuals. The movie throws these at us relentlessly and never lets up its assault. A better filmmaker might be able to do something with that, but in Valette’s paws, this all feels desperate. I get the impression he knows that there’s no substance here so he tries to mask the movie’s inherent emptiness with all these gimmicks.

And that’s really the only “director’s style” the movie exhibits. We get all the usual horror flick techniques, none of which prove effective. They just bore us after a while – or worse, make the movie laughable.

Though I’m sticking with boredom as the movie’s major motif. Call lasts only 87 minutes, but it feels like an eternity, especially during its interminable ending. I’d look at my DVD’s time display and think “you gotta be kidding – there can’t still be that much movie left to watch!” Eventually it did end, and I felt grateful. Once I’m done with this review I’ll never have to think about One Missed Call again – hooray!

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus D-

One Missed Call appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Despite the movie’s shortness, the single-layered presentation seemed to make things less than concise.

While the flick usually looked pretty good, some issues did develop. Sharpness created some of these. The majority of the movie appeared well-defined, but occasionally things became a bit soft and fuzzy. No issues with jaggies or moiré effects emerged, and edge enhancement was minimal. Source flaws were absent, but compression artifacts sometimes made matters look somewhat gritty.

Like virtually all other modern horror movies, Call stuck with a fairly subdued and stylized palette, as much of the film alternated between a moderately blue or amber tone. Actually, matters seemed more natural than I expected during a fair amount of the flick, but the hues remained low-key nonetheless. Within those parameters, I thought the tones looked well-developed and clear. Blacks were decent though a bit inky, and shadows followed suit. They usually showed acceptable delineation, but they could be a little muddy at times. All of this added up to a watchable but not great image.

Although One Missed Call never generated any scares, I couldn’t blame the designers of the flick’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, for they worked hard to mine any potential chills. The film came with an aggressive mix at times, as it occasionally used all five speakers to blast us with potential chills and scares. (None of these succeeded, but I couldn’t blame the sound guys for that). The soundscape created a nice sense of atmosphere, though the more active scenes were actually pretty rare. Most of the mix stayed with general spooky ambience, and that side of things was decent.

Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music showed nice range and clarity, while effects were crisp and accurate. Bass response could be a bit tepid at times, but overall dimensionality was fine. I thought this was a pretty solid mix for what it attempted to do.

Virtually no extras pop up on the disc. A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for The Sick House, Otis, The Orphanage, and Lost Boys: The Tribe. No trailer for Call shows up here.

I always thought cell phones were evil; I didn’t break down and get one until early 2008, as I truly loathe the devices. One Missed Call reinforces my belief that they’re the devil’s tool, if just because they’re at the center of this relentlessly terrible horror flick. The DVD gives us decent to good picture and audio but comes with no extras. Not that a great presentation would matter, as there’s nothing that could make me recommend such an awful movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.4285 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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