Saturday, September 13, 2008

One Missed Call (Chakushin Ari)

Yoko and Yumi were having dinner with their friends one night, when they went to the bathroom together. In the bathroom, Yoko's phone rings. The ringtone is totally unfamiliar to either girl, so neither answer. When Yoko checks her phone, she's surprised to see that the missed call is from her own number, and the time of the call seems to be two days in the future. The girls listen to the message. They hear Yoko's voice say, "Oh no, it's raining," followed by a scream. They let the other friends listen to the message, who all agree it must be some kind of prank.

Two days later, though, Yumi's in her room when she gets a call from Yoko, who's walking home. During the conversation, it starts to rain, prompting Yoko to say, "Oh no, it's raining." Yumi remembers the call from two days ago, but before she can do anything, Yoko screams as she plummets off a bridge in front of a moving train.

At Yoko's funeral, Yumi overhears some schoolgirls talking about a vengeful spirit who kills people through their cellphones, then chooses it's next victim from the numbers stored on the phone. And as their friends are killed one by one, she teams up with a man whose sister was also claimed by the curse, to solve the mystery behind the curse before they too are killed.

One Missed Call is sometimes criticized for being derivative, especially of Ring. Spooky long-haired ghost women? Check. Phone calls letting you know when you're going to die? Check. Heroine learns about the curse from schoolgirls discussing an urban legend at the first on-screen victim's funeral? Check again. But rather than a ripoff, let's call One Missed Call a homage, because even though it's borrowing ideas from other films, it uses those ideas quite well and even mixes them with themes like child abuse. And although the ending is a little unintelligible, the bulk of the movie is quite entertaining, with scenes ranging between creepy to downright frightening, especially a scene on a paranormal show where a priest tries to perform an exorcism on one of the cursed girls, and another scene at a creepy abandoned hospital.

All-in-all, One Missed Call might not be a masterpiece of Japanese cinema, or even good enough to be in the top-tier of horror films that it emulates, like Ring or Juon. It's still a solid film in its own right, entertaining and scary, and well worth a watch.

Final Score: A-



science412 said...

I haven't seen this one, but the American remake is terrible. There wasn't one moment when I was frightened and, I'm just going to give the plot away right now, but the evil spirit in the movie was the ghost of an 11-year-old emo girl with asthma. If either emo or asthma scares you, then maybe you should actually check this version out.

Mike said...

The main bad guy ghost in the Japanese one was also a little girl with asthma. But she wasn't emo. She was creepy in that way that only little Japanese girls can be. I mean, the way she casually goes to her sister, cuts her arm with a huge knife, then casually suggest they can go to the hospital (which is where they got the red candies)...