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DVD Review: One Missed Call

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Hollywood has done it again, remaking an R-rated Japanese horror flick, Chakushin ari, into a watered-down PG-13 boo-movie. I’ve not seen the 2003 original but I’ll venture to say that One Missed Call pretty much misses the mark.

The story is this: young and pretty people – purportedly college students but none of them live in dorms and the one house we see is pretty swank for off-campus housing – receive mysterious voicemails from themselves sent from the future right at the moment of their upcoming, unavoidable deaths. The heroine, played woodenly by Shannon Sossamon, becomes concerned as her friends are picked off one by one and enlists a handsome and sympathetic cop (Edward Burns) to get to the bottom of the mystery. Throw in some off-screen child abuse, a flickery ghost or two, a haunted hospital, and an unsatisfying ending, and you’ve got yourself a movie!

I feel as though there are some missed opportunities in One Missed Call. The cast is pretty strong for this genre; besides the aforementioned Sossamon and Burns, it includes Azura Skye, Jason Beghe, Margaret Cho, and the always fun Ray Wise in a cameo as a sleazy reality television producer. The supporting cast does a good job but Sossamon has the same dazed expression on her face for the whole movie and Burns is clearly just phoning it in.

Since this American version is rated only PG-13, there is obviously no gore and very little violence, much of it done off-screen. I jumped once, at the very beginning as the first victim is dragged by her face into a koi pond, but that was it for the startle-scares. In addition, it seems as though the filmmakers couldn’t decide what sort of horror film they wanted to make: some of the deaths are by “accident” a la Final Destination (falling off a train platform, getting impaled by rebar) while others are clearly supernatural, brought on by the vengeful ghost. The ghost itself just isn’t that scary, however; by now, American audiences are so over the flickering, stuttering, creepily-hooded, Asian-derived spirit. We want a new boogeyman.

As far as the DVD itself, there are zero extras. There are several previews and you can choose between a widescreen and a full screen view. That’s it.

Neither as scary nor interesting as The Ring (or even The Grudge), One Missed Call is a movie I wish I’d missed altogether.

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  • I suppose I see why Hollywood wants to remake these successful Japanese films: most US audiences will never have seen them. What I don’t understand is the insistence on dumbing the remakes down to this PG-13 foolishness. If it’s a good, scary movie that you feel the need to remake, then remake it into another good, scary movie. ARGH is right.

  • The original is really good – in fact, I’m a big fan of all three though I think you already have to be a fan of the genre to be able to follow the storyline without jumping out a window. They’ve screwed up too many fabulous Asian horror films, and now I hear that Tale of Two Sisters ( The Uninvited ), Ryeong ( The Ghost ), Bunshinsaba ( Witchboard ) and St. Johns Wort are all in the queue to be remade. ARGH.