JANUARY 5, 2008
Somewhere in the world, possibly even reading this review (Hi there!), there exists a human being who thought One Missed Call might actually be pretty good. This person ignored all of the tell-tale signs (the PG-13 rating (meant to be R during filming); the early January release; the fact that it's the umpteenth remake of a J-horror film; the lead actress who can't actually act paired with the lead actor who simply chooses NOT to....) and said to themselves: "Yes, I want to be in the One Missed Call business."
Well that person's a dope. Everyone else in the world, even some of the teenagers who the damn thing was made for, knew this wouldn't be any damn good (my screening was like 90% empty, and the 15 year old girl in front of me was shaking her head as she left). And guess what? It isn't. It's not HORRIBLE, like Ring Two or Pulse were, but it's just so painfully by-the-numbers that you can almost see the script template on the screen.
Yes, once again, we have a vengeful ghost using technology to get back on people who had nothing to do with her (it's always a girl) unfortunate demise, with a ticking clock on our hero and/or heroine's life to maintain the suspense. There's a corpse who needs a proper burial, a lot of "you're going to think I'm crazy BUT...." conversations, a strange calling card that lets the heroes know the deaths are related (here, not only is it the phone call, but also a piece of hard candy in the victim's mouth). If FearDotCom and The Ring gang-raped The Grudge and got it pregnant, the result would be this movie.
But at least those three films offered SOMETHING to make it worth your while (Fear had gore and Udo Kier, Ring is actually good, and Grudge had... well, Sarah Michelle Gellar looked pretty good in it). What does this offer? Well I guess if you're one of those folks who think Shannyn Sossamon is the hottest woman in the world, you might get some enjoyment out of watching her do the bare minimum amount of acting in order to collect her heroin check. Ed Burns, the poor sod, doesn't even do that much; in several scenes he looks like he's one blink away from nodding off entirely (it's ironic, for once I actually stayed awake through one of these damn movies while everyone on screen looked like they'd rather be napping). Ray Wise is kind of amusing in his 35 seconds of screen time, and Margaret Cho (of all people) gets in a good line that sort of makes fun of the hard candy subplot. But all of these people have done better work in better films (though it's better than Sossamon's The Order, I'll give it that much).
There's also a nice little mean-spirited "p.s." in the first kill scene that made me laugh out loud. And Sossamon's friend gets hilariously nailed by a train. More stuff like this and the movie could have been a minor gem, but sadly after these none of the death scenes have any levity or black humor. Which is a major problem for the film - it takes itself too seriously. The concept is ridiculous (even moreso when we learn the back-story), and had the characters followed suit and just had some fun, again, this could have been something. But no, apart from a brief scene where Burns and Sossamon try to break into an apartment, there's absolutely nothing even remotely amusing (intentionally so anyway) in the film.
Although, Massachusetts residents might get a kick out of the area code in the film. Even though they never say where they are (that I can recall anyway), at one point the number being dialed has area code 508, which is a Mass code (or at least, it WAS - it was my area code for a while growing up, but a few years ago it was changed to 978, so maybe 508 got retired).
So there you have it: a film in which the highlights are an area code and a cameo by Leland Palmer. Enticing, no? No. I have yet to see the original (attempts to see it beforehand were thwarted by the "Long Wait" kiss of death on my queue) but from what I understand it was nothing special in the first place.
(I was going to make a joke about how the film wasn't screened for critics and screening phone calls, but why put more effort into wrapping up my review than they did writing their movie?)
What say you?