One Missed Call Review

One Missed Call Review

As much as Takashi Miike used to be identified as a ‘horror director’, the truth of the matter is that he’s only really made 4 of them. This, Audition, Imprint and Three Extremes. Other films of his utilize certain elements of the genre such as his Yokai film, Gozu, Happiness of the Katakuris etc but they’re not horror in a pure sense.

So One Missed Call is obviously his take on the neo-kaidan j horror wave and I can’t really call it one of the best that came along. The film starts off extremely generic, becomes extremely interesting in the middle third and then the last act runs on for 20 minutes or so too long. Not to demean the genre at all, but a horror film like this, that so strongly relies on well known tropes does not justify a near 2 hour running time.

The plot is Ring with a telephone instead of a tv. There really isn’t a more generous way to say it as that’s what the film absolutely was written as. Teenagers receive mysterious phone calls or text messages detailing the time and date of their death complete with an audio clue as to how exactly it’ll happen. Films like Pulse could easily be categorized in the same derogatory way (Ring with the internet), but that film has so much more going on that it throws out its initial premise around 20 minutes in.

As I said, the middle third is quite fun and takes on a really gleeful parodical nature whilst still being quite chilling. With two teenagers already dead as a result of the mysterious phone calls the media decide to jump on board and capitalize on the tragedies. The crew of a tv show incredibly reminiscent of the infamous Ghostwatch decide to hunt down the most recent person to have received the phone call and plan a live broadcast of the moments leading up to the time she is supposed to die. It’s done incredibly well and reaches a level of ingenuity that you expect from Miike, but it just takes so long to get there.

So whilst that scene redeems the film, the ending as already stated just goes on for way to long. I was enjoying the ending as much as the tv show scene initially as it reminded me of Silent Hill. That said, you can only have your protagonists walk around an empty building for so long, and if you start introducing deus ex machinas all over the place the film is no longer scary.

It’s not bad, it’s not good, but it is disappointing for Miike.

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Craig 41 posts

Horror Japan is Craig Hatch, a Brit currently living in Tokyo, Japan. Horror Japan is a project that aims to review and collate media from all aspects of Japanese horror culture.

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Original Title: Chakushin ari Director: Takashi Miike Year: 2003