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One Missed Call (2008)

Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 4/22/2008

All Ratings out of
Extras: None

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/17/2008

Those who are familiar with the work of Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike know that the words "mainstream" or "general audience" do not fit his movies. Miike is often considered one of the most original and extreme directors working today. Thus, one wouldn't expect one of his movies to get any sort of wide release in the United States. (This isn't to imply that they don't deserve this. Everyone should see Audition.) But, what would you say if something very similar to this happened and one of Miike's movies was remade for American audiences. Would that surprise you? It may until you learn that the film in question is One Missed Call. Miike's 2003 film is one of his tamer works, but how will the remake fare?

As One Missed Call opens, Beth Raymond (Shannyn Sossamon) learns that her friend Shelley (Meagan Good) has died. A rumor surfaces that Shelley had been talking about a strange phone call in the days before her death. A few days later, Beth's friend Leann (Azura Skye) gets a voicemail on her cell phone. But, there are two very strange things about the message; first of all, the call is from a few days in the future, and secondly, it has Leann's voice. Leann is then killed at the exact time which corresponds to the message. After this, more of Beth's friends begin to receive the sinister phone messages. Beth goes to the police for help, but she is rebuffed. Detective Jack Andrews (Ed Burns) overhears her story and offers to help Beth, as his sister has recently died in a similar circumstance. Their investigation leads them to two children who were taken into the custody of social services due to allegations that they were being abused by their mother. But what do these young girls have to do with the mysterious deaths? As more of those around Beth die, she and Jack must race against time to stop the killings.

In my recent review for There Will Be Blood, I wrote about the odd sensation of being unimpressed with a film which had garnered a number of positive reviews. With One Missed Call, I experienced the opposite reaction. This movie has been savaged by critics and the movie-going public. The movie currently has a rating of 0% (out of 100) on Rottentomatoes.com and the average score on IMDB.com for the film is 2.7 (out of 10). Folks, I'm here to tell you that the movie isn't that bad and that I'm rather surprised by these results. Apparently, many people, both in journalism and the average moviegoing public, have truly forgotten what a bad movie looks like. By way of comparison, I Know Who Killed Me and Rob Zombie's Halloween both have better scores than One Missed Call, which is simply insane.

Now, don't get me wrong, One Missed Call is no classic, but it's a solid horror film. Again, the movie is a remake of a 2003 Japanese film from controversial director Takashi Miike (and both films are taken from a novel by Yasushi Akimoto). Miike's film follows the same storyline, but there is more emphasis on the ghosts (naturally) and less on the mystery side of the story. For the remake, writer Andrew Klavan and director Eric Valette has struck a balance between the two parts of the story and both have positive aspects.

From the script side, the story introduces the very disturbing idea of a person getting a message from themselves which foretells of their death. Yes, this was carried over from the novel and the original film, but for those not familiar with the story, this is a clever idea and a nice spin on the "you're going to die" phone call from Ringu. Then, we have the mystery aspects of the story. The movie gives us few clues in the beginning, other than the fact that each victim is found with a piece of hard candy in their mouths. From there, we travel with Beth and Jack as they try to unravel the secrets. The script plays things very fair and most viewers won't figure out what is happening until the very end. Being a supernatural story, things get a bit hokey at times (and you have to accept the fact that there are vengeful spirits), but all-in-all, it's all tied together very neatly.

The movie also contains some creepy imagery. Kudos to Valette for avoiding the long-haired female ghost stereotype which permeates every Asian remake. Instead, we get ghosts that movie in flashes, not unlike those in Thirteen Ghosts. Those who have received the message of doom begin to have visions and they seen people with hollow, ashen faces around them. These briefly glimpses creatures are often chilling, especially the woman pushing the baby carriage. So many films dismiss the power of unsettling imagery, but it works well here.

Despite this praise, One Missed Call is far from a masterpiece. The pacing is somewhat sluggish and once we get the gist of the basic idea, we have to sit through a few deaths before the mystery is explored. While most of the deaths are fairly straightforward, one looks like an outtake from a Final Destination movie. Overall, the acting is OK, although Ed Burns looks as if he'd rather be somewhere else. That aside, One Missed Call is a perfectly serviceable horror movie. It's got an interesting story, a plot which (mostly) makes sense, and some creepy visuals. I'm not sure what else people were looking for with this one, but it's a perfectly good rental if you're in the mood for Asian-lite.

One Missed Call leaves a message on DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The DVD contains both the fullscreen and widescreen versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks fine, as the image is sharp and clear. There is very little grain to be had here and there are no defects from the source material. The colors look very good and the finale never gets too dark. But, overall, the image looks somewhat flat and lacks in depth and detail. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good and the creepy ringtone always comes through loud and clear. We get some nice surround effects during the finale and the scene with the train offers a good bass response which makes us feel as if we are there.

There are no extras whatsoever on this DVD.

Warner Home Video has also brought One Missed Call to Blu-ray Disc. The film has again been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the disc offers a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 17 Mbps. The image is a noticeable improvement over the DVD, as the picture has much more depth and detail. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and the colors are very vibrant in the daytime scenes. The finale, which is dark, looks great and the action is always visible. The Blu-ray has a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and averages 1.7 Mbps. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects with no hissing or distortion. The stereo effects are quite good and the train scenes sounds fantastic. The skittering ghost fills the rear speakers during the finale. This is exactly a reference quality Blu-ray, but it's an improvement over the DVD and looks & sounds fine.

As with the DVD, there are no extras here.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long