“One Missed Call” (2003) – Chris Luedtke

Of all the ridiculous things that can become a frightening part of our lives, cell phones have never come off as so to this critic. Stephen King even lowered himself to writing a book called “Cell,” which brings about the end of the world through a call on one’s cell phone. One Missed Call is just another attempt to try and tackle the issue of making technology scary, to no avail.

Yumi (Kou Shibasaki) has a problem: her friends are being done in by possessed cell phones. When the call comes, it’s from the individual’s own number and predicts the date and time of their death. Unfortunately for everyone, there is no escape. The cell phone ghost only seems to spread like a virus, with no cure in sight. But the further Yumi digs into the mystery, the more she finds out that she has a dark connection with the malevolent spirit.

What can be said about a cell phone horror movie? It’s absolutely silly? Yeah. Pathetic? Yeah. But it’s not a failure on all fronts. Going into this film, I had absolutely no expectations for success. Of course, that would have been a very pleasant surprise. One Missed Call at least manages to have its act together, unlike Ju-On. The film begins simply enough, cutting the fat and getting to the point: death by phone! I found myself chuckling enough for the first few minutes, but eventually, One Missed Call just had to try and give itself a plot…ugh.

One Missed Call doesn’t like to keep things simple. Instead, it does its best to make character connections as close as possible. The circle of friends is well-established; when one bites the dust, it reverberates down the line. There are a few deaths that are just something to shrug off, though at least things don’t always happen how we think they’re going to. But this also gives the ghost a sort of god power to make sure fate is inescapable. Once we can finally escape, we’re treated to an eye rolling last-half plot that will make you groan in agony.

Innovation is the name of the game here, and while One Missed Call has its heart in the right place, its execution is all over the map. Some parts of the film really work, and others fall and break their face. The ending is yet another seemingly endless case of hair-pulling frustration. The fury that overcame me when the final moment hit was a reaction along the lines of, “That was it?!” Still, I can’t say that it’s as bad of an experience as I expected. One Missed Call is at least better than one would believe given the plot outline. Still, that doesn’t mean the film is a total success.

Rating: ★★☆☆

-Chris Luedtke

Read A.J. Hakari’s One Missed Call review here.

Leave a Reply