Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
|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|
|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