One Missed Call

Dir: Eric Valette
Star: Shannyn Sossamon, Edward Burns, Ana Claudia Talancon, Azura Skye

At the time of writing, we have not yet watched the Japanese original on which this was based - that will be reviewed separately, but on the basis of the remake, the phrase which comes to mind is: "Why did they bother?" The premise is, admittedly, creepy: a series of accidental deaths at a college campus are all preceded by the victims receiving phone calls, stamped with the date and time of their subsequent demise, in which they hear themselves kicking the bucket. When this fate befalls several friends of Beth (Sossamon), she has a hard time getting the police to believe her, until she finds Detective Andrews (Burns), whose sister was among the first to go. Working together, they eventually discover the source of a curse is a family where one of the daughters is suspected of being abused. Can they break the chain of the curse before falling victim to it?

It's at the end that the difference becomes most apparent between this and its closest cousin, the remake of The Ring. While the latter yanked the carpet out from under the viewer with magnificent malevolence and glee, all we get here is a daft finale that doesn't make sense, even by the questionable rules the film has followed so far. Indeed, looking back, things head steadily downhill from the moment Beth's own phone rings, and even the deaths are limited in their execution by the PG-13 rated nature of this remake. Sossamon is actually not too bad; while I always found her highly irritating in her previous roles, she's more restrained here and doesn't make for a bad heroine. Burns is blander, and you sense any jobbing actor could have been plugged into his role without difficulty. This is a regurgitation of American ideas [Final Destination], already processed through a Japanese eye, and now thrown back through Babelfish once again. The results are about as incoherent and unimpressive as you'd expect.

[November 2008]

Hair-raising tale
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