Sometimes the old Hollywood assumption that if “they like one movie, they’ll like 10 movies made exactly like it”, makes me want to secede from the movie lovers’ union and start reading novels again. It’s like a Hollywood exec is grabbing you by the throat and shouting, “You liked DANTE’S PEAK, didn’t you? Well, then check this shit out! It’s called VOLCANO! It’s just like DANTE’S PEAK, right down to the middle-aged guy and half-lesbian chick, but this time they’re dealing with lava instead of ash!”
After THE RING 2 and THE RETURN, you’d think that Hollywood would get tired of fisting the American public with 5 years’ worth of botched Japanese horror film remakes and get right down to ripping off 300, but nope, just when you’re curled up in the corner, slamming handfuls of Xanax and crying with exhaustion, Hollywood is cruel enough to swagger over and crank ONE MISSED CALL into 2,200 theaters this weekend.
With Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kristen Bell, and Michelle Trachtenberg having already supped with remake infamy, and considering that Jessica Alba has just wrapped the extremely ill-advised THE EYE remake and Miley Cyrus is moments away from signing on for Miike’s GOZU remake, casting choices were slim, but thankfully Ed Burns (THE SOUND OF THUNDER) and Shannyn Sossamon (CATACOMBS) managed to make room in their respective schedules for a 4-day horror film shoot.
The premise is simple: you get a phone call and hear your own death. A couple of days later, you die. After you die, your cell phone calls somebody in your own phone book, and then they die. Shannyn Sossamon is disturbed when this cell phone plague begins taking out her bestest friends, so she enlists the help of Ed Burns, a gullible police detective with what seems to be a very light case load. You see, if they can only combine their powers of deductive reasoning to find out the SOURCE of the cell phone calls, they can stop the chain of death and everybody can get out of the theater in time to catch the last half of THE BUCKET LIST in the theater next door.
The original Japanese version of ONE MISSED CALL—directed by an unusually restrained but still moody Takashi Miike—is a completely adequate horror film featuring a handful of haunting, creative visuals. Whereas the death scenes in the original film were strange and preceded by a palpable tension, the death scenes in the remake are hampered by TV-movie computer effects and a recurring motif that involves each of the characters being enveloped in a distracting, Disney-like glow. It’s not scary, it’s silly. The movie is PACKED with obnoxious jump scares, and a full-on 2/3 of them are just because Ed Burns sneaks up on somebody, gets the jump sound effect, and then says something like, “Hey, it’s okay, it’s just me, Ed Burns, from 27 DRESSES….”
ONE MISSED CALL is one of the worst Japanese horror remakes ever attempted. Sadly, considering the cinematic output of recent years, that isn’t that strong of a statement. We can all be amazed that the studios actually released a movie this blatantly shitty into theaters, or we can simply sigh and smile and shake our heads, like we would if our neighbor’s kid took a PG-13-rated shit on a church pew during Sunday service. Thankfully, it’s not our mess to clean up.