Review: “One Missed Call”

An inept remake of 2003’s “Chakushin Ari,” admittedly one of the weaker efforts of Japanese horror master Takashi Miike, this latest effort in the long line of dull PG-13 retreads of superior Asian spookfests hits new lows for the long irritating trend.

No video tapes or evil Asian albino goth kids are visible here, instead ‘Call’ uses the gimmick that the victims of a supernatural serial killer receive phone calls from themselves at the time they die several days in the future. In between the call and the death, they begin hallucinating strange visions – usually involving centipedes or people bleeding black blood from their assorted orifices.

Shannyn Sossamon and Ed Burns, two actors not unfamiliar with some utter garbage (see “The Order” and “A Sound of Thunder” respectively), seem half asleep playing a young woman and a cop racing to stop it before she dies. Both are actors notable for a laid back and somewhat low-key style – the completely wrong type for this kind of film where desperation and tension are required to have us emotionally engaged in their fight for survival. The supporting cast seem equally bored and resigned to their fates, whilst others like the great Ray Wise are wasted in schlocky bit parts.

The premise, like all these films, has a mild potential and Miike at least knew how to exploit it for the odd true chill and some enjoyably dark humor in the original film. Director Eric Valette has no such subtlety or wit in his very generic style, and struggles to milk genuine interest out of Andrew Klavan’s atrocious screenplay. There are moments of humour, but all are unintentional and mostly about some of the film’s more ridiculous scenes such as a mobile phone exorcism in a church, or the back story of an abusive parent that plays like a scene right out of “Mommie Dearest”.

Exposition isn’t so much laid out but rather piled on in great chunks, so much so that a late but modestly clever twist riffing on the film’s Munchausen by Proxy theme renders much of what comes before it pointless. True atmosphere or tension is dumped in favour of some typical jump moments involving hands or hooded figures – the shocks do work at times, but aren’t helped by the stupidity of the characters who love wandering dark empty train stations or abandoned hospitals at night.

Even at 85 minutes its a good half-hour too long and wears its patience out quickly, not helping is that it takes over half the film to get around to hunting our female lead. The only real credit you can give the filmmakers is at least they don’t go for the obvious phone product placement, it would make for a much more interesting film if the generic clamshells seen here would’ve all been iPhones. God forbid, if this is successful there’s little doubt that a “Ring 3” involving a killer Blu-ray disc can’t be far off – I can already see the tagline, ‘Death Goes High Def’.