January 7, 2008

Movie Review: One Missed Call (2008)

Ever since The Ring hit it big back in 2002, Hollywood has been continually searching for the next Japanese import to repeat its success. It was tasted, if only for a moment with 2004's The Grudge. However, most of the attempts have fallen flat. Most of the rest have failed to ignite the box office, these movies include Dark Water, Pulse, The Ring 2, The Grudge 2, and even a non-horror attempt with Shall We Dance. This will most likely continue with the creative misfire, One Missed Call, and next month's The Eye (with Jessica Alba). So, here we are, One Missed Call has arrived on the big screen, and it has proven itself to not only be the first film of 2008, but an early contende for worst film of the year.

One Missed Call combines elements of two of its brethren, The Ring and Pulse, and attempts to tie the horror more closely to the cell phone junkie culture that has been growing over the past number of years. You know, with all the texting and walkie-talkie, it seems as if no one is not without their trusty cell phones. Not only that, but it looks to make the horror a bit more closely connected to its victims. Rather than the dead wanting to cross back over to the living through our technology, or random people watching a random videotape, the evil of One Missed Call spreads itself through the phone's contact list, meaning that everyone will be connected through an unbroken line of friends and acquaintances.

So far so good. Dependence on technology is always a good concept to base a movie off of; unfortunately, successfully digging into the idea has proven tricky at best. In the case of One Missed Calls, they fail to get into it at all. For that matter, besides skipping on theme, they neglected characters and development too. Quite frankly, there is no reason to like or see this movie. It is simply there in an attempt to catch a few bucks in the early stages of the year.

The story of One Missed Call has a malevolent spirit randomly dialing someone from the last victim's cell phone contacts and then repeating the process. On the receiving end, the victim receives a call from the last victim. The new person does not answer it, but does listen to the voice mail left. The message contains their final words and the time stamp marks the time at which they are set to expire. Beyond that we learn who is behind it, not that it is any big secret (just think about what you have seen in other J-horror movies and their Hollywood remakes), the rest just fails to make any sense. Well actually, none of it makes any sense.

If you want to make any actual sense of what goes on over the course of One Missed Call, I am afraid you are going to have to write it yourself. It seems that the only thing screenwriter Andrew Klavan was doing was getting the characters from one scene to the next. It does not appear that he had any grasp of what the story was or any desire to give it any life. Seriously, with some of the things that go on in this movie, no one takes the time to actually talk about what is going on. Everyone just sleepwalks through their roles, spouting dialogue that has nothing to do with anything and explains nothing.

The main thread is easy enough to follow. When the plot is as thin as this, it is not going to be all that hard, nor is it going to be all that interesting. The very idea of giving any sort of exposition must have been a foreign concept to them. Well, that or they figured they didn't need to spend any time on that aspect, leaving it up to the audience to put together the pieces. They never explain the significance of anything. I mean, what was with the centipedes and hard candies (that looked like marbles), surely they couldn't travel across the cell phone connections. Also, I hope Boost Mobile didn't have to pay much for their plug. Surely, once word gets out that their phones kill it won't do anything to help their business.

Is she yawning?Okay, now if the story and its maddening lack of any detail or depth wasn't bad enough, we have to deal with acting that that defies anyone's ability to defend it. I have to wonder if it was due to just bad acting, or if the entire cast realized how bad the script was moments after signing on. There is no effort given by anyone to make their characters believable, from Shannyn Sossaman, to Ed Burns, to smaller roles from Margaret Cho and Johnny Lewis. Well, there is one exception, Ray Wise. He turns up in a bit part as a reality show host, and while he does not have much to do, he is as charismatic as you can get.

There is absolutely no reason to see this movie on the big screen, if at all. Although, believe it or not, there were a couple of sequences I liked. The first would be the tail end of the opening scene. I'd tell you, but that would spoil the surprise (besides the fact that it is inconsistent with the rest of the film). The others come a bit later, one taking place in an airshaft that provides a genuine chill (as a standalone sequence), the other comes during the Ray Wise segment and is just a creepy effect on some religious art. Not enough to recommend, but perhaps when it hits DVD in a month.

Bottomline. No reason to bother here, unless you like to see everything. All I can hope for is that The Eye is better than this (the trailers alone are better). The script, acting, direction, and scares are all second rate, if not worse. Not a good way to start the new year.

Not Recommended.


Post a Comment