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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Movie Review: One Missed Call (2008)

Yesterday, I reviewed 2014’s Ouija. In that review, I mentioned that that film is what happens when one begins to not challenge themselves with their craft; the slow, but steady downfall into beginning a cycle of the same song and dance. It's that downfall that progressively leads to one becoming less and less connected to what they create, until they eventually lose any and all connection with their craft.

It's at that point that they don't even try anymore, and the down spiral leads to works that don't resemble anything that could be considered acceptable by anyone with standards.

Case in point: One Missed Call.

Behold: one of the worst posters ever crafted!

During 2000s, there were a string of western remakes of Asian horror films. If I'm not mistaken, this started with the critical and financial success of 2002’s The Ring, which was a remake of the incredible 1999 film, Ringu. Following that was 2004’s The Grudge, which wasn't well received, but made a fair bit of money. The Ring Two also came out that year and was critically slammed. In spite of that, it still made money.

An unreasonable number of other western remakes followed, but none managed to be as well received as The Ring. Progressively, the films got worse until the trend finally died off. One of the killing blows to this trend came in the form of One Missed Call, a remake of the 2003 Japanese horror film of the same name from legendary director Takashi Miike  As for this remake, it arrived in 2008 from director Andrew Klavan—a crime novelist. I mention Klavan's history as an author as that explains why the film's mystery aspect is the only thing in the entire film that feels like it has any sort of cohesive structure.

Now, before we continue, I wanna address something: this film is adapted from a book called Chakushin Ari by Yasushi Akimoto. How faithful either of these films is to the book, I can't say for certain. Whether or not the book is any good, I can't say. That said, while I may lambaste this film's writing, I'm directing absolutely none of that at the original source material. With that said, let's continue.

I'm not sure how loyal this film is to the original and I don't care. The plot goes as follows: people die after getting a phone call from themselves some time in the future; a call of them dying. It's the cellular edition of Ringu, but without an iota of what made Ringu scary or intense. This stems from the incredible level of disconnect that One Missed Call has with the concept of storytelling. It lives, breathes, and dies by the cliche and the trope.

The screenplay to this film was also handled by Andrew Klavan. I can't vouch if the guy has any experience with the horror genre, but it wouldn't shock me if he didn't. That said, I'll give him credit for his scenes centering prayer on the film's actual mystery. You see, not one to be confined to throwing jump scares out like they're going out of style, One Missed Call has our main heroes trying to get to the bottom of these murderous phone calls. Once again, this borrows extraordinarily heavily from Ringu and once again, it's not even a millionth as good as that. Alas, I will give some credit to Klavan for managing to craft something kind of decent.

Performance wise, One Missed Call is inhabited by the finest human-like wooden entities not possessed by Valak. Such masterfully produced works of art can replicate human emotion like the real thing, but without the hassle and baggage that comes with the real thing. Such brilliance from our in-house financing has allowed us to mass produce these babies and send them anywhere in the world. Too bad they malfunctioned en route to their destinations and no longer emote.

Pacing wise, One Missed Call is a very static film, never feeling like it's advancing. Scenes may change, characters may die, but I never felt we got anywhere. This aspect is brought to you by a terrible script.

If there's one other I can praise, it's the film's twist. In any other movie, it'd actually worked really well. Here, however, its lack of buildup results in the feeling that this could've been more.

Whether or not this film's abysmal script is the fault of Klavan, I don't know. Regardless, One Missed Call is an enigma of film making. It's the apex of not trying to bring anything new to the table. It can't be asked to create something original, so it instead opts to regurgitate tired, worn-out cliches. It haphazardly throws them at the wall and never stops to see what's stuck and what hasn't.

And yet, I'd highly recommend watching it. If you ever needed a more perfect example as to what happens when you don't try to broaden your horizons as a content creator, you may end up becoming unengaged in your craft. As I said at the start of this review, that boredom and disconnect can lead to a downward spiral.

And once you hit rock bottom, you'll be greeted by your very own One Missed Call.

Final Score: 0/5

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