One Missed Call

Is it any surprise to anyone in the world that the only film to get a brand new wide release on the first weekend of the year is a stinker? This is where bad movies go to die, isn’t it? After all, the only advantage to an early January release is that pretty much everyone will forget about it when they’re making their “Ten Worst” lists in December.

One Missed Call carries on the traditions laid down last year by colossal lemons of the past like Blood and Chocolate, White Noise and BloodRayne. Like these other early-in-the-year thrillers, they didn’t have any power to overcome the barrage of quality award flicks and December blockbusters, so they’re dumped in the sewer of January.

Following in the line of Dark Water and Pulse, One Missed Call is an English language remake of a Japanese thriller – with a French director, no less. While there’s value in cross-cultural mixing, it never works in this movie. Rather, it becomes a teetering Tower of Babel from the script stage.

This time around, evil ghosts are haunting cell phones and voice mail rather than houses or videotapes. It’s as if Vanilla Ice wrote the script, sampling elements from The Ring and The Grudge with a dash of Pulse sprinkled in.

Shannyn Sossamon plays Beth, a woman whose friends are getting picked off one by one with a haunted voice mail message. As each one dies, the ghosts ring another friend’s cell phone with a message of their own death a couple days in the future. Ed Burns plays a police detective whose sister is one of the victims. He is the only one who believes Beth and, against the advice of his fellow detective (played by a ragingly out-of-place Margaret Cho), he tries to track down the source of the calls.

Having seen my fair share of Japanese horror films, both the original and the American remakes, I can say that there’s nothing original in this movie. Perhaps Miike put something fresh in the original Chakushin Ari, but nothing gets translated to the American screen.

Originally, I triumphed these Asian horror imports, and back when The Ring and The Grudge were redefining horror cinema, they were great. However, they are quickly becoming tired. They’re no longer fresh with a unique perspective on the old-fashioned thriller. Like the slasher movies of the 1980s, they are being copied endlessly with new, fast cliches. After all, how many more films can we stomach with creepy, ghostly children and jumpy specters in the shadows?

Rarely do I find myself compelled to describe a film in single words. But so many come to mind for One Missed Call: uninspired… mundane… ludicrous… random… and just plain silly.

One redeeming quality of the film is the appearance of Ana Claudia Talancón, who we saw a couple years ago in the tepid Fast Food Nation. Of course, it could have been much better if they had bypassed the PG-13 stigma and given us a gratuitous nude shot. Even Shannyn Sossamon is a waste as eye candy wearing frumpy clothing throughout the film. But aside from some pretty faces in the casting, there really isn’t a thing the filmmakers did right here.

Well, maybe one thing, but it only happens at the end, amid a whirlwind of unnecessary visual effects and deus ex machina. And I don’t want to spoil the only good thing about the movie to anyone stubborn enough to see it for themselves.

Grade: D+

The Upside: It was short.

The Downside: No suspense. No originality. No boobies.

On the Side: FilmSchoolRejects was supposed to interview Shannyn Sossamon at Comic-Con this year, but they doofuses responsible for the interview just plain forgot.

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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