One Missed Call (or Chakushin Ari) is another J-horror entry, this one airing back in 2003. It was directed by Takashi Miike, who is known for a variety of violent films, some of which have become cult classics. Like the other films I’ve been reviewing, this too got an American remake (but not until 2008).
This #1 complaint I see thrown at this film is that it’s unoriginal. I’ll go ahead and concede that the film does, indeed, have a good deal in common with the likes of Ring (which I reviewed a couple days ago) and Ju-On: The Grudge (which I will review in a couple days). But what I won’t concede is that this makes One Missed Call a bad film. This is a great film. Great directing, great acting, great atmosphere. This is a film created by talents who understood the tropes and knew how to work with them. And there are a number of things that do manage to set this one apart.
The premise is simple but solid. It starts when a student gets a call on her cell phone, but it uses its own mysterious ring tone. I love this ring tone; it gets the job done perfectly. Anyways, one missed call later, the student gets a voice message dated two days in the future, and it sounds like her screaming and dying. Guess what happens two days later? Yup, she dies just as the voice message predicted, and the curse is passed on to someone else’s number saved on the phone. And it’s all thanks to ghosts, as always!
As you can see, the curse is rather similar to the one in Ring–and then when vengeful ghosts enter the picture, the way they’re presented in general is much like those found in Ju-On: The Grudge. But this isn’t just a rehash of the two films! The way the plot plays out is very intriguing, and the scares themselves are some of the best in the genre. There are several scenes with extremely memorable imagery, and one in particular that took me completely by surprise. The ghost that lashes out at the end of Act 2 means business!
The story features Yumi, a friend of the girl who dies at the start of the film–and Yamashita, a detective who has been investigating the curse for some time, after his sister was killed by it. The two work together to try to find a way to appease the ghost and stop the curse before Yumi gets killed by it too. It’s the tension-building of the time limit from Ring mixed with creepy ghost encounters from Ju-On: The Grudge. But a bit more violent, and a bit more… theatrical. I would not call it melodrama, as I do care about the two main characters here–but there’s certainly an added level of dramatic flair to be found in One Missed Call.
I feel that what stands out the most for this film is definitely the ending. This is one of my favorite endings for any movie, and to go into why would lead to spoilers. It was another scene that completely took me by surprise though, and it’s the kind of ending that you actually have to stop and think about. Or at least, I did. And I still do? There are different schools of thought in how to interpret this one, but even if you don’t care to delve into any of it, it’s still a fascinating conclusion.
Pour yourself a bowl of Boo Berry and see for yourself! Just be sure to put your phone somewhere far away while you watch…