One Missed Call
Directed by Eric Valette. Starring Ed Burns, Shannyn Sossamon, Ana Claudia Talancón, Ray Wise, Azura Skye. (2008, PG-13, 87 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Jan. 11, 2008
Genre fans will need no heads-up on this ill-advised stateside remake of Takashi Miike's 2003 foray into technophobic Japanese horror – they're avoiding it in droves, and, judging by the nonexistent audience I caught it with over the weekend, so is everyone else. Smart move. The J-horror trend initiated by Hideo Nakata's 1998 viral freakout Ringu, which along with nearly every other film in the genre has been remade multiple times throughout Asia and the U.S., is way past its expired-by date, asphyxiated on soggy tendrils of lank, black hair and kabuki-doomy, fright-faced shock cuts. For every solid attempt to translate the maddeningly intricate cultural psychoses of Asian cult horror into boffo American box office (The Ring, Dark Water) there are an equal number of hideous misfires: Pulse, The Grudge 2, and now this. The original One Missed Call was itself a lame departure from the legendarily prolific Miike's exhilarating, apparently lifelong mission to be the directorial equivalent of the Videodrome signal. Anyone who has ever (intentionally or otherwise) subjected themselves to the triple-mindscraping of Audition, Ichi the Killer, and The Happiness of the Katakuris is the stronger for it, although Miike's sprawling, tentacular oeuvre defies easy anything. Except, of course, for One Missed Call, which found Miike attempting to create his own spin on the already mortally wounded J-horror tropes by ripping off Ringu and its Korean rip-off, Phone, to no great success. (Or not. Miike's original promptly spawned two dud sequels. Go figure.) Here and now, Valette's Americanization, which deals with cell-phone calls from the soon-to-be-deceased to their predemised selves, is significantly less engaging than the original, although that may have to do with the lack of subtitles. It's a puzzler, all right, and since Burns is on board as a stodgy, tired-looking detective who has lost his sister to the ring tones o' woe, female lead Sossamon has someone to furrow brows with and mull over the unmullable. Apart from some borderline-clever cinematography courtesy of Glen MacPherson, there's precious little to make anyone want to answer this doleful call. Do yourself a favor and go rent any Miike film other than this one. You've got somewhere in the vicinity of 75 from which to choose.