One Missed Call (2008)

i watched the american remake of one missed call this week, and i’m a little scared to share my feelings on it. from the get-go, this film had the cards stacked against it. the cast is largely unremarkable and the director has done nothing you’re likely to have seen. more importantly, one missed call is yet another j-horror american remake… and frankly, even people who loved the ring and the grudge (like me) are getting a little sick of these things. furthermore, the original version of one missed call was directed by takishi miike, which sets some pretty high expectations for anyone trying to redo it. perhaps most tellingly, this remake was rushed through production and quickly dumped rather unceremoniously into theaters which shows that the studio had little faith in it.

add all of that together and you’re almost guaranteed to get a box office flop that’s largely ignored by audiences and universally panned by critics. and that’s exactly what happened. with a truly stunning 0% rottentomatoes rating, it seems that all the signs were correct and this is one crappy movie. to put that rottentomatoes score into perspective… both fear dot com and uwe boll’s the house of the dead managed a respectable 4% rating, while my personal favorite for worst film of all time, alone in the dark (also from boll), scored 1%.

that means that, at least from a critical point of view, one missed call is somewhere between four and infinite times worse than fear dot com… wow.

which brings me to the point where i’m a bit ashamed to share my personal opinion on this film. at the risk of losing the respect of horror fans everywhere, i have to stay… i kind of liked it. it’s not that i disagree with any of the chief complaints i’ve seen raised against the film. the acting is mediocre at best, the plot is illogical and often self-contradictory and the writing takes what was an amazingly clear storyline in the original film (particularly for a j-horror piece) and makes such a muddled mess of it that the big twist at the end is basically incomprehensible unless you’ve seen the source material. for example, it’s clearly established throughout the film that the ghost can only kill those that it calls and leaves ominous cell phone messages for… then what are we to make of a scene where the ghost kills a cat? did fluffy have his own cell phone? that and several other scenes serve no purpose other than to create cheap scares, often at the expense of the narrative. which brings me back to why i liked it…

structurally, the film may be a mess and i’m a little irritated that portions of the original that i really liked (in particular, the ring tone and the ending) are handled so poorly… but i have to say that the movie is entertaining. the whole piece has a very creepy mood that i quite enjoyed and most of the scares really worked for me. i’ve always enjoyed those scares where a character is looking at a backdrop of normalcy and then sees one little thing is really off (like a passerby has a demonic, distorted face) and no else notices it (e.g., jacob’s ladder or the eight or ten seconds of the exorcism of emily rose worth watching — see super-creepy animated gif here). this film is filled with moments like that, and almost every one of them got me. i’ve learned that different things scare different people and it’s a little unfair to call a horror film bad just because it didn’t scare you — some people don’t understand what the big deal is about a dark-haired girl with bad posture, but for other people the ring made them spend the night hiding in the dryer. one missed call is not a good film… but i found it atmospheric and creepy enough that i thoroughly enjoyed watching it. i would recommend it to fans of the original series, people with a moderate-to-high tolerance for j-horror nonsense or those that just don’t feel like thinking too hard for an hour and a half.

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