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!