JULY 11, 2008
For like, 8 or 9 months, I’ve had the original One Missed Call (aka Chakushin Ari) on the top of my queue on Blockbuster online, only to continually face a “Very Long Wait” status. I had intended to see it before the remake, but no dice. So I had to let out a very loud “Oh for the love of Christ!” in the actual store the other day when I realized that they had the damn thing on the shelf. Considering their rather weak horror selection (new and old – I’m actually almost out of options there for HMAD entries), I don’t know why I never noticed it sitting there before, but oh well. Let movie-availability bygones be bygones I guess.
After watching the film I became even more annoyed that I saw the remake first, because the two films are practically identical. Almost nothing was changed, structure wise, and the only real difference is that the original version had character development. In particular, the main girl’s backstory about her abusive mother is an actual plot thread, not something quickly mentioned and forgotten about 5 minutes later as it was in the American version. If I had seen the superior original first, I probably would have liked it OK enough and enjoyed seeing the film unfold. But instead, I saw the weaker version first, so all the story surprises were already “spoiled” as I watched this one.
Pretty much every addition to the American version made the movie weaker. The candy here is introduced halfway through and only seen once or twice. In the American one, the candy laughably falls out of each character’s mouth as they die. The remake also added a death scene at the beginning, whereas in the original the first death is only mentioned. Subtle foreshadowing > distracting cameo from flavor of the month actresses (Meagan Good).
Also this version has good acting. Ed Burns can act when he wants to, but he clearly wasn’t in the mood in the remake. And I’ve never seen any evidence that Shannyn Sossamon can act at all. Plus she was too old – the theme (our over reliance on technology and all that) works better on an 18 or 19 year old who is constantly texting and talking than it does on a 30ish introvert who probably only uses the damn thing once a day.
There are, however, two exceptions. One is the actual ringtone. This one is annoying, but the one in the US one is actually kind of creepy (I actually keep looking to see if I can get it). The other is the location of the tape/camera that contains the crucial information as to why the ghost is so pissed off. In the remake, unless I’m remembering wrong, it was hidden inside the girl’s bear doll, which paid off why she always had it around. Here they find the camera just sitting there, barely hidden, but the tape is gone. And even though she has the bear, it doesn’t tie into anything. Someone later just says “we found the tape with her things” and that’s that.
Remake comparisons aside, it’s still one of the lesser efforts of the sort of “Asian ghosts possess our technology” movies that make up a hefty chunk of the Asian horror films that get nice releases in our country. The tension is severely lacking, even when the heroine gets her own call and has x amount of hours to solve the mystery (a gimmick way better implemented in The Ring, either version). Plus it’s just a lame backstory to begin with, and there have been just too many of these damn things. People bitch about the excess of “Torture Porn” here – there are probably more “Asian ghosts haunt peoples _____ device” movies. And then they all get remade so there are twice as many.
The DVD has a whole 2nd disc’s worth of extras. First is an hour long making of that I found pretty interesting. Other Asian horror movies with behind the scenes stuff usually reveal that filming is pretty technical and meticulous – it’s planned out to exact details and filmed accordingly. But a good chunk of this particular doc shows Takashi Miike exploring scenes with his actors and coming up with new ideas on the set. Interesting. There is also an alternate ending (which I think might be a joke) and some interviews, nothing particularly exciting. It’s worth noting that they seemingly take their DVD interviews very seriously – both Miike and the guy playing the lead are dressed in tuxedos for their interviews.
If you’ve already seen Pulse, Ring and/or Shutter, there’s really no reason to watch this. It offers nothing new, isn’t particularly exciting, and the pace is all over the place (two people die almost right after they are met, and then other scenes go on forever). It’s superior to the remake, but that’s about all that it’s got going for it. Had there been no remake, it would probably already be forgotten by all but Miike faithful.
What say you?