One Missed Call (2003) / Horror-Mystery
aka Chakushin ari

MPAA Rated: R for violence, disturbing images and brief nudity
Running time: 111 min.

Cast: Kou Shibasaki, Shin'ichi Tsutsumi, Kazue Fukiishi, Anna Nagata, Atsushi Ida, Mariko Tsutsui, Azusa
Director: Takashi Miike
Screenplay: Minako Daira (based on the novel, "Chakushin ari" by Yasushi Akimoto)

Yet another in an already long series of J-Horror films regarding technological devices as the tools for deaths of youth.  Perhaps more of interest for being directed by Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) more so than anything that happens within the film itself, it still might disappoint Miike's fans, as it is fairly straightforward as far as these sorts of films go, without any of the extreme violence and sexual deviancy that permeates his more notable work.    Basically, it's one of his most commercial efforts, so unless you're a completist, or just someone who really loves all J-Horror, be prepared for another exercise of the routine.

The main story of One Missed Call involves some mysterious deaths that occur to several young women shortly after receiving a strange melodic ring tone on their cell phones, followed by a recording in their voice mail featuring their own voice.  Creepier still, the message dating is set some time in the near future, and calls seem to be coming from their own cell phones.  The recipient eventually ends up saying that which is recorded in the voice mail just before being killed by an unknown, unseen force.  These events eventually become known to the general public, though not much can be done about it.  The most recent receiver of such a call is Yumi (Shibasaki, Go), who just so happens to have all of the victims' names in her contact list.  She and Hiroshi Yamashita (Tsutsumi, Monday), the brother of one of the victims, do their best to try to turn the tide of deaths, but find that to do so, they may have to discover the source of the reasons behind the killings.

As with most other prominent J-Horror films, there is a rather dour explanation for the killings, emanating from events occurring in a tragic past that has manifested itself in terrorizing the living.  There is also a time associated between the point where a person first learns of their fate and when they eventually meet their inevitable demise, similar to RinguJu-on's hair motif also creeps its way into the story, along with the creepy bone-twisting attacks.  For the most part, it isn't terribly scary, although there is a general sense of unease throughout, and a few eerie moments late in the film where it becomes more of a full-on horror flick. 

While One Missed Call rarely deviates from formula, Miike does add on one major twist that occurs toward the end, although it doesn't serve the themes much justice -- basically, it's a twist just to have one.  It also makes the film a bit more complicated to follow, and I'll admit, if I had to recap just what goes on in the film, I doubt I could without re-watching it from the beginning.  I suspect I still might have some trouble making sense of it all. For the most part, I found to the film to be long and rather boring, mostly because it is so derivative of other films I also think aren't particularly entertaining.   I'd say, unless you're a J-Horror junkie, this Call is one you can afford to miss.

-- Followed by One Missed Call 2 (2005) and One Missed Call Final (2006).

Qwipster's rating:

2007 Vince Leo