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Movie Review

One Missed Call a.k.a. “Don't Pick Up the Cell Phone!,” “Chakushin ari,” “Llamada perdida,” “Üks vastamata kõne,” “1 puhelu tullut,” “1 ubesvart anrop,” “Una Llamada perdida,” “Mistet opkald,” “La Mort en ligne,” “Nieodebrane polaczenie,” “The call: Non rispondere,” “You've Got a Call”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, frightening images, some sexual material and thematic elements

Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Thriller, Horror, Mystery, Remake
Length:
1 hr. 27 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
January 4, 2008
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

Ghosts in the Bible

Demon

What is the Occult? Answer

THE OCCULT—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

Featuring: Edward Burns, Shannyn Sossamon, Azura Skye, Ana Claudia Talancón, Ray Wise, Rhoda Griffis, Margaret Cho, Jessica Brown, Johnny Lewis, Alana Locke, Kaira Whitehead, Tara Ansley, Wilbur Fitzgerald, Greyson Chadwick, Randy McDowell, Ariel Winter, Mitch English, Kevin Navayne, Grace Baine, Luanne Byrd, Brian Beegle, Steve Warren, Katie Kneeland, Roy McCrerey, Roshika West, Alexandra Taylor, Raegan Lamb, Kendyl McCray, Cal Johnson, Jeff Hallman, Nathan Standridge, Greg Corbett, Dave Spector, Melanie McCullough, John Bailey, Shawn Reynolds, Geoff McKnight, Neill Calabro, Faye Yvette McQueen, Dawn Dininger, Nathan Wright, Jonathan Edward-Davis, Jason Horgan, Matthew Browning, Kasia Kowalczyk, David Dysinger, Lashon Cross, Shawn Cooney, Jody Thompson, Stephanie Schlund, Blake Hester, Robert Cannon, Scott White, Karen Beyer, Chad Schuermeyer, Kelly Finley, Charles D. Frame, Sarah Jean Kubik, Kenneth L. Zirkman, Sarah Jean, Donny Stamper, Andy Velo, Todd Whitfield, Joe Woodyard, Mike E. King, Baxter Bradham, Bob Seel, Lauren Peyton, J.T. Seidler, Ryan Maldonado
Director: Eric Valette
Producer: Timothy M. Bourne, Shinya Egawa, Allison Haskovec, Manfred D. Heid, Broderick Johnson, Gerd Koechlin, Andrew A. Kosove, Scott Kroopf, Elizabeth Kushman, Josef Lautenschlager, Jennie Lew Tugend, Martin Schuermann, Andreas Thiesmeyer, Steven P. Wegner, Lauren Weissman
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

based on the novel Chakushin ari by Yasushi Akimoto

“What will it sound like when you die?”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “What will it sound like when you die? In ‘One Missed Call,’ a chain of people receive terrifying cell phone messages of their own final fatal moments. Though the messages can be deleted, their number is up. Beth Raymond (Shannyn Sossamon) is traumatized when she witnesses the gruesome deaths of two friends just days apart. Even more disturbing, she knows that both of them had received chilling cell phone messages—actual recordings of their own horrifying last moments. Impossibly, the calls were received days before they died, but each death occurred precisely when and how the messages foretold. The police think Beth is delusional—except for Detective Jack Andrews (Edward Burns) whose own sister was killed in a freak accident that bears a strange similarity to the deaths of Beth's friends. Together, Jack and Beth work feverishly to unravel the mystery behind the ominous calls. But even as they get closer to the truth, Beth's cell phone begins to ring with an eerie tune, and the readout says One Missed Call…

In this remake of the Japanese horror film ‘Chakushin Ari’ (2003), several people start receiving voice-mails from their future selves—messages which include the date, time, and some of the details of their deaths.”

Should you ever receive a phone call from yourself dated in the future, do not answer. This may be the most meaningful message of “One Missed Call,” the most recent Hollywood remake of a Japanese horror film by the same name.

Now it is clear that Hollywood is running out of ideas of its own, and if it is going to make remakes, why not remake a foreign film that most Americans have never seen? The idea worked well for the remakes of The Ring and the Grudge, but not so well in other cases. “One Missed Call” falls into the later category, although not for lack of trying. In some ways “One Missed Call” improved upon the original, but in other ways it was a large step down. The most obvious failure was the transition from eastern mysticism to western spiritualism. In the east, it is conceivable to picture dead spirits as energy which can be transmitted like radio waves. In westernizing the story, there was a scene where a TV evangelist attempts to cast a demon out of the cell phone “in the name of Jesus”! This was not only preposterous, but a clear mocking of TV evangelists, if not Christianity itself. More important to the film was that it made the entire plot ludicrous. More than once in the film there were chuckles and laughter emerging from the audience. This is not a good sign for a serious horror film.

“One Missed Call” revolves around a group of people who die under mysterious, and violent circumstances, after received phone calls from themselves dated at the exact time of their impending death. Together with a police detective, two people set out to find out what demonic spirit is causing the deaths, and why. In eastern mysticism, a spirit can be appeased. In western tradition, the whole idea of hunting down a ghost that possesses cell phones seems ludicrous. The key to “One Missed Call”'s success would be in its ability to sell the west on this concept, but by westernizing the story too much, it becomes laughable despite some good directing and favorable alterations. From a technical standpoint the film was well directed and the cinematography was nice. The film looked good, but felt absurd and cliche.

On the positive side was the directing and acting, which made the film tolerable. There were also some good changes from the original film. The original film featured someone being killed by the ghost on live television. This seemed a bit too much for me. Fortunately, in the American version, the murder is never broadcast, but somehow blocked and appears as pure static. There are many new scenes of ghostly apparitions missing from the original which give the movie a more tense mood, and the violence of the original was also toned down for a PG-13 rating. Finally, the pace of the film was much better, making for a shorter film.

On the negative side is the occult storyline, blasphemy, mockery of Christian evangelists (if not Christianity), and poor alteration decisions such as casting demons out of cell phones and the rather curious alteration of the ending which led one audience member to shout “what!” as the credits began to roll. Even the hard candy (which was a critical piece of evidence in the original) was somehow forgotten and dismissed with a single piece of dialogue.

Morally the film is a well deserved PG-13, which pushes an R-rating. Although no nudity there is talk of “sex and phone sex” at the same time and a brief (but not graphic) sex scene in a room (no nudity is shown). There is the use of the s-word and b-s-, as well as some other mild profanities throughout the film. The main problem is the violence. Despite being toned down from the original, there was ample violence and even gore. In addition to the many corpses, ghostly corpses, and apparitions (many of which are grisly), there is a pike shown puncturing someone's chest, some scenes of child abuse, including someone being burned with cigarettes, a knife is shoved in someone's eye (not graphically shown), and the grisly addition of a severed hand seen dialing a cell phone!

Perhaps the worse part of the film is its blatant mockery of TV evangelists, if not Christianity itself. There is an extended scene of an attempted exorcism by TV preachers. The evangelist tells the camera man to “make sure Jesus is centered” in the shot. Later a preacher attempts to cast demons from the cell phone “in the name of Jesus,” and the image of Jesus shown on a crucifix apparently becomes possessed itself, as it twists and distorts its expression to a grimace.

Lastly, is the occultism of the story itself. We know that the Scriptures tell us that “it is appointed for man to die once, and then comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The concept of vengeful spirits exacting revenge upon the living is thoroughly at odds with the Judeo-Christian worldview with which the film erroneously attempts wed.

Part of me wanted to like the film. I really did. Nevertheless, despite the technical quality of the film, it fails to entertain as it wishes. Even if the movie had not gone out of its way to mock Christianity (or at least TV evangelists), it tried too hard to be different from the original and ultimately loses its way.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This movie was great!… this movie deserved PG-13! This movie kept me on the edge of my seat! I loved it; it had some scary images like a dead body in a tunnel. And there was no f-bombs, about two s-bombs. And the sexual content, none. The movie was a little fast as in lots of people die really fast. I didn't really like the acting and cast, but that's just my opinion!…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Amy, age 41
Neutral
Neutral—This movie was surprisingly really good. It was an excellent horror, suspense detective thriller. It reminded me a lot of the movie “The Ring.” The acting was good in most of the dramatic scenes, but when the scenes were less intense the actors seemed like they were just reading from a script. There were some curse words but not over the top. Mostly the “s-word.” As a christian, one part in the film really bothered me though. It was a scene were some teenagers were making out and the camera angle was shot between the girls legs with her dress lifted up so it really looked like they were having sex. however that part did go by really fast. After that scene the movie seemed to get a lot better. I was on the edge of my seat through out the rest of the movie. I would recommend this movie to film goers that are really into this type of genre because it lives up to its hype.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Gene Cooks, age 32
Neutral—My Faith: Agnostic. I would just like to mention that as neither a believer or non-believer of God or Jesus or any religion what so ever, I fail to see how the use of the statue of Jesus Christ was used in an offensive manner. I felt it was a accurate potrayal of modern day exorcisms (my spelling may not be accurate). They were not saying Jesus was evil or anything of the sort, they were simply showing the demons from Taylor's exorcism inhabiting different props in the room. Seeing as this was a set on a televison show and they were using the goodness of God and Jesus, it seemed only natural that the statues would be there.

The movie itself was not that bad, despite being quite confusing at some parts and the ending not making much sense. It was quite jumpy and creepy which is what I like in a horror movie, but I must say it wasn't one of my favourites. I would however like to see the original Japanese version and plan to do so at some point in the future.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Josey, age 24 (United Kingdom)
Negative
Negative—I will no longer just sit by and watch them (attempt to) degrade Jesus Christ. I watched Ben Hur the other day and what a difference in the amount of respect. I walked out when they made the figure of Christ part of the “horror.” I should have never walked in there. Blasphemy is just as bad. We are turning into Rome.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Quintin, age 24
Comments from young people
Neutral—My friends and I went into this movie looking for a scare. From the previews it actually looked pretty scary so we said why not? Actually without giving to much away I believe the first “opening scene” was scarier than the rest of the movie put together. There are a few jumpy parts that are always fun,and the plot is somewhat easy to follow. BUT it is nothing compared to other Sci-fi thrillers like “The Ring,” in my opinion. There are just not enough supporting elements that make it worth getting scared or watching in the first place. There is also a scene that I would consider somewhat offending to the Christian faith.

*Spoiler*(kinda)-in one scene I feel like Jesus Christ and Religion in general are made into a joke. There's one incident where an Exorcism was turned into a reality show of some sort. The faces of Jesus and what looked to be Saints were turned into the faces of the “evil dead people,” I guess you could call them. I found that part disturbing.

*END* Profanity was pretty mild only a few uses of the “sh” word were used, though I didn't hear an abundance of anything to harsh. Overall, this movie was okay and in the end showed the value of caring, but nothing I would spend money on again. Go see “Juno” instead.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Ashley, age 16
Negative—I did not like this movie at all. It made me rather uncomfortable. My friend and I went and saw it and got up and left. It, in our opinion, was satanic and made Jesus appear horrible.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kelsey, age 17
Comments from non-viewers
I am from Asia and since this movie was rehashed from the original Japanese version, I thought I have to say something about the general horror genre movies that are coming out from Japan, Korea and Thailand which are now being remade for the English speaking market. Most of them are beautifully shot, and some are well acted and directed, but that does not matter as most of the films have demonic themes that comes from the filmmakers’ respective cultural background. [EG Female, child ghost or apparitions, curses and even witchcraft] If you are a Christian, it's best that you refrain from watching them. Be aware of the dark objectives of these films. Mat 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”…
—Jon, age 47, Singapore