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One Missed Call
"Stop me if you’ve heard this one before..."

In 1998 Hideo Nakata directed a film version of Koji Suzuki’s evil cassette tape novel, Ringu. The film was enormously successful in and out of its native Japan and virtually spawned a new genre of film. This led to a plethora of sequels, knock offs and remakes, including a successful Hollywood version, which in turn led to the Hollywood optioning of almost every J-horror title since. Now the time has come for Japan’s resident David Lynch for hire, Takashi Miike, to take a crack at the formula.

One Missed Call
Heroine Yumi (Kou Shibasaki) is a college student who, like most college students, has a cell phone and a group of friends. While chatting in the ladies restroom, Yumi’s friend gets a mysterious phone call from herself, dated three days into the future. The brief message left is punctuated by an eerie scream. Assuming it’s a prank, she goes about her business, only to find herself careening off a bridge to her death three days later.

Yumi, upset beyond simply losing a friend, suspects a supernatural murder plot. Her fears seem justified when her other friends begin dropping like flies, every one of them warned by mysterious phone calls. Yumi begins a personal investigation, unravelling a twisted tale of child abuse and wrongful death. Then one day Yumi realises she too... has One Missed Call (scream!).

One Missed Call
The similarities between Ringu and One Missed Call are many. The Ringu mythology utilises a ghostly telephone warning in correlation with its cursed video and the theme of haunted technology is prevalent in both features. Both films feature female leads that take it upon themselves to solve the supernatural crimes with the assistance of a single male sidekick, who is previous to the unnatural events of the film a total stranger. Of course, like every post- Ringu J-horror presentation, the murderous ghost is a pale-faced girl with long black hair that moves in very unnatural ways.

The advantage One Missed Call has over the other countless Ringu clones is Miike in the director’s chair. As he demonstrated in Audition, quite possibly the scariest film of the last five years, Miike has mastered the ability to lull his audience into a false sense of complacence, only to attack them viciously when they’re off guard. The silly and clichéd scares peppered throughout the film’s final forty minutes actually work. I’m ashamed to say they worked quite well. Miike successfully wrenches every ounce of creepiness the formulaic story can muster. When the pale-faced girl slowly appeared in a closet behind Yumi, my neck hairs were appropriately raised. I’m also shocked to say that Miike is quite conservative with the onscreen bloodshed and if released in the States, One Missed Call could easily score an R rating.

One Missed Call
This praise does come at a cost, as the film is in the end just another throw away Ringu cash-in. Just because Miike could do this better than almost any living filmmaker, doesn’t mean he necessarily should have. I know I personally need another pale-faced ghost girl like I need a hole in my head. Unfortunately I wasn’t particularly fond of the original Ringu in the first place, the constant imitation is getting a bit old.

This Hong Kong release is of average video quality. There is quite a bit of grain and digital noise but no action is ever obscured or confused by it. I’m sure that like most Miike quickies, One Missed Call was shot on a meagre budget and the film quality reflects that. There is an overall darkness to the entire film but this is in keeping with most of Miike’s more serious work. Nothing to get too picky about here.

One Missed Call
There are two quality but underutilised surround tracks on this disc, one Dolby Digital EX, the other DTS ES. The DTS track is of slightly better quality, as it is generally cleaner. The Dolby track is surprisingly quite, but works fine. The surround channels are not often utilised but when they are, they go a long way in selling a scare. By the end of the film I realised that the subtlety of the sound was instrumental in the films successes.

There are no extras on this barebones release, unless one considers static menu systems an extra, which I do not.

One Missed Call
To tell the truth, I actually found One Missed Call scarier and more entertaining than the original Ringu. I know, I’m nuts. Miike’s assured direction and a truly thrilling final act make what could have been total garbage a slightly above average genre time-waster. Fans of J-horror and Miike might want to check this one out. In the end, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

You can purchase this title for $11.99 from top retailer Yes Asia.