“One Missed Call 2″ – A.J. Hakari

At this point, Ringu and the popularity it’s enjoyed need no introduction. But what made folks go ga-ga for it in the first place? Aside from scaring the bejeesus out of you better than very few could, it was a film that played fair, one whose plot twists not only came as a surprise but made sense upon recollection. That’s why it’s sad to see so many of its imitators using these devices as their own personal “get out of logic free” cards. You can’t just jerk the story where you want it to go without rhyme or reason, but movies like One Missed Call 2 think otherwise. On top of being pretty mediocre as far as mysteries go, the flick adds insult to injury by not just painting itself into a corner plotwise but by taking the most senseless, audience-enraging way out too.

One Missed Call 2 picks up about a year after the first film’s events, though with a few tweaks made to the formula. The ominous phone call that foretells one’s imminent death is still on the move, working its way through a circle of friends before singling out schoolteacher Kyoko (Mimura) as the next to die. But instead of the ubiquitous red candy, victims of this latest wave of deaths are found with traces of coal dust in their stomachs. Could it be that there’s a new ghost in town? It seems so, after a determined reporter (Asaka Seto) does some digging and uncovers evidence of a vengeful spirit originating in Taiwan. Once again, the race is on to stop the curse in its tracks, though will the day be saved, or will this spectral newcomer live to spook another day?

I need not remind you the ridiculous lengths to which certain films will go in order to expand into the world of sequels. One Missed Call 2 is no exception, but it doesn’t necessarily start out that way. It’s certainly not as cheap as the Ju-On pictures, which define the “do whatever the hell we want” attitude that ruins so many potential creepers. There’s at least some imagination involved in the storytelling process, suggesting another evil force at play rather than carrying on with the original curse. It’s a thin beef, but it’s better than nothing, especially when this film emphasizes mystery over freaky set pieces. Such scenes serve as bookends to the bulk of the plot, which consists of the characters trying to figure out what in the name of Hideo Nakata is going on. I liked this approach, since not only did I not have to sit through more nimrods biting the big one, the flick would have to work harder to hold my attention. It just came to pass that this is where the movie shoots itself in the foot and tries in vain to hobble along.

That One Missed Call 2 expects us to be surprised by anything that takes place infers that the film’s main demographic is people who’ve never seen an Asian horror movie in their lives. Any soul who’s popped in a random J-horror ghost story (or its repugnant American remake) will have a good idea of what’ll happen here. The trouble is that the movie’s not as spry and thusly trudges towards one of the least shocking revelations in horror history. The few atmospheric moments director Renpei Tsukamoto does include hardly compensate for a sense of pacing that’d put coffee to sleep. In terms of acting, no one in the cast is outrightly awful, but the decent performances are weighed down by an abundance of subplots too cliched to give anything more than two shits about. Don’t even get me started on the confounding climax and ensuing ending, which probably would’ve been more effective had I not ceased to care long before their arrival.

One Missed Call 2 is a whore in the worst way. More than pleased is it to flush such values as story and suspense down the drain in order to lazily whack at a horse that’s long since been pushing daisies. This is aimed more at Asian horror as a whole than One Missed Call 2 in particular, but martyrdom is the price it pays for embodying everything I hate about what the genre has become.

Rating: ★½☆☆

-A.J. Hakari

Read more of A.J.’s reviews at ReelTalk Movie Reviews, Classic Movie Guide, and Terror Tube.

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