- Rated PG-13
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All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
t’s only been six years since “The Ring” experienced unprecedented success at the American box office, and in that small period, seven other Asian horror films were pushed through the Hollywood remake machine. None turned out even remotely as well as Gore Verbinski’s “The Ring,” but that has less to do with the people involved and more to do with the fact that almost half of these films share the exact same story.
“One Missed Call” (a remake of director Takashi Miike’s 2004 film of the same name) is the latest Asian import to suffer from this repetition, and though the movie isn’t nearly as bad as some people would lead you to believe, it’s still bad enough to be considered one of the year’s worst.
Shannyn Sossamon stars as Beth, a psychology student with a very unfortunate group of friends. After one of their classmates (Azure Skye) is killed in a freak, “Final Destination”-like accident following a creepy voicemail she received on her cell phone, the rest of the group begins to perish one by one. They all die the same way: after receiving post-dated voicemails of the final seconds before their deaths, they are killed by a vengeful ghost at that exact time several days later. When Beth gets a call of her own, she teams up with the only detective who believes her (Ed Burns) to uncover the mystery behind the murders before her time is up.
“One Missed Call” isn’t a particularly scary movie, but it’s visually (and audibly) creepy. The “monsters” that each victim becomes aware of upon hearing their fate are some of the nastiest things I’ve ever seen, and the ghost’s lullaby-esque cell phone ring is equally disturbing in that “Village of the Damned” evil children sort of way. Still, despite its horrific atmosphere, director Eric Valette does very little to set the film apart from the many others that it graciously borrows from. Ghost story that revolves around a mother-daughter relationship? Check. Convenient method to provide a never-ending supply of victims? Check. Needless commentary on the use of technology in society? Check. And to think that only covers one movie.
I understand, of course, that a criticism like this probably shouldn’t fall on Valette (after all, many of the original Japanese films were based on novels) but why has it taken someone this long to realize that they’re so similar? Granted, it’s probably like pointing out that most American slasher films follow the same formula, but still, what’s the point in remaking a movie we’ve already seen? American audiences have never been very interested in ghost stories (and why should we, with pop icons like Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers?), but when that’s the main ingredient for an entire genre, one has to wonder why studios even continue greenlighting these things. Is Hollywood that desperate to duplicate the success of “The Ring?”
I walked into “One Missed Call” expecting a terrible movie. What I got instead was a creepy horror film bogged down by bad decisions (who cast Margaret Cho as a straight-edged cop with only two scenes?), a been-there-down-that plot, and one of the worst endings in years. It probably could have been better if the director wasn’t so afraid to step outside the box, but it also could have been much, much worse.