One Missed Call
"Avoid this movie unless you enjoy watching implausible and impossible scenarios about dead people getting revenge on the living through electronic devices of modern convenience."
One Missed Call (2003)
Director: Takashi Miike
Cast: Kazue Fukiishi, Atsushi Ida, Renji Ishibashi
Running Time: 113 Min.
Plot: Yoko receives a creepy phone call dated three days in the future, from what sounds like herself. But days later, when the events in the message occur, Yoko is killed. And now her friend Yumi must try to solve the mystery before she too becomes a victim.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
RAGING GAIJIN'S REVIEW: Say what you want but Asian horror is a tired and dying genre, surviving on a flood of copy-cat titles that all milk the same formula (long-haired female ghosts attacking through some kind of electronic device) and a rabid fanbase that is apparently too impassioned to realize that they've been watching the same movie over and over for the past few years. If you're anything like me, you feel like if you've seen one Asian horror film, you've seen them all. Of course, since the genre is dying I suppose it's the perfect time for Takashi Miike to bring it back to life with a sudden jolt of something Asian horror has been missing for awhile: originality.
This is not to say that "One Missed Call" doesn't feature the usual Asian horror clichés. Long-haired female ghost attacking through an electronic device? Check. A plucky young female with an investigative side who must unravel the mystery before it's too late? Check. But somehow Takashi Miike is able to take this well-worn story and present in a fresh new way. This is largely because his directing style completely flies in the face of every other Asian horror movie. Miike is not concerned with the slow build; he doesn't favor long takes to try and create a sense of impending doom or dread. There's maybe one "jump scare" in the whole movie. Rather Miike wants the viewer in a constant state of unease for the entirety of the film. He doesn't want you to ever feel safe…and yet somehow he's still able to sneak up and catch you off-guard when you least expect it.
Throughout "One Missed Call", Miike makes several random cuts and flashes to disturbing images, sometimes seemingly unrelated to the overall story of the film. Some of these images are later explained, others are left to merely dwell in your subconscious. There's a scene very early on in the movie where Miike cuts to a person sitting in a restaurant and, suddenly, there is a bony, pale-white arm grasping their shoulder. It's these kinds of unexpected and altogether disturbing transitions and jump cuts that Miike uses throughout the film that make "One Missed Call" so much more entertaining and alive than other Asian horror movies. Miike's camera doesn't dwell on any one scene long enough to sustain a mood; he's throwing image after image at you, and the effect is relentlessly unnerving. In comparison, movies like "Dark Water" and "Ringu" seem to move at an almost glacial pace.
With "One Missed Call", Takashi Miike has constructed one of the most subversive commercial horror films in some time. While Miike unabashedly wallows in many of the clichés of the genre, and makes sure the cast and the film look gorgeous, it is his unconventional editing style, unique and unnerving scare tactics, and unpredictable plot twists (including a reality TV exorcism) that makes "One Missed Call" stand on its own. The ambiguous and head-scratching ending is at first frustrating but on further contemplation it's brilliant; it's as though Takashi Miike is giving a blatant middle-finger to any critics who dare to call him a sell-out.
"One Missed Call" reveals Takashi Miike as less of a director and more of a ringmaster; with anarchic glee he plunges the audience into a haunted house of his design, one where unspeakable horror is waiting behind every cut the camera makes. Simply put, this is as entertaining as Asian horror gets. I'd watch "One Missed Call" over "The Grudge" or "Ringu" any day. Why? Because it's actually fun.
RAGING GAIJIN'S RATING: 7.5/10
EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: I have to say, I'm disappointed in this Miike flick. I know, I know... I don't like horror movies to begin with, they don't scare me (duh, they're movies... I know they're not real). But this one was just bad. It was like a bad, Miike directed rip-off of The Ring, with Cell Phones instead of Video Tapes. It just spells bad. The acting was fine, and the atmosphere was pretty cool, but the story just bored me nearly to tears. Ooooooh, people getting voice mail messages from themselves in the future that's recorded as they get killed by some mysterious dead kid. Spooooooky. Whatever. It was just lame. When will I learn that even a director like Miike can make a load of crap when he tries to be scary. Avoid this movie unless you enjoy watching implausible and impossible scenarios about dead people getting revenge on the living through electronic devices of modern convenience.
EQUINOX21'S RATING: 3/10