Shannyn Sossaman, Edward Burns, Ray Wise, Johnny Lewis, Margaret Cho
Andrew Klavan (based upon novel by Yasushi Akimoto)
Is "not horrible" a recommendation?
Not quite. However, "One Missed Call," Hollywood's latest attempt to mine riches from Japanese horror with this remake of Takashi Miike's 2003 flick "Chakushin ari," may actually be the rarest of feat of all...an improvement, albeit a modest one, upon the original.
Miike, who vacillates wildly between horror classics and inept crap more than most directors, made with "Chakushin ari" one of his more commercial films. Here, under the direction of Eric Valette ("Malefique"), "One Missed Call" is even more commercialized with its PG-13 rating and target late-teen, young adult audience.
"One Missed Call" plays a tad bit better than one might expect from a film not screened for critics, largely owing to a better than average cast and a script by Andrew Klavan that seems to comprehend the hidden nuances of the original film and its source material (a novel by the same name).
The film begins with the death of a woman and her cat in a small college town, and the inexplicable subsequent demise of an increasing number of her students after receiving a voice mail from the previous victim during which they hear the victim's final moments.
Miike, who has admittedly never been one of my favorite filmmakers, clearly missed the mark with "Chakushin ari," while Valette is more wildly uneven, occasionally seeming to produce an assured, suspenseful film while just as often allowing "One Missed Call" to collapse into a sea of silliness.
The central character is Beth (Shannyn Sossamon, "Wristcutters: A Love Story"), a beautiful young student who witnesses more than one of her friend's grisly demises and who appears in line to be a victim despite the disbelief of local authorities (represented largely by Margaret Cho, in a non-comic role). She is finally believed by Det. Jack Andrews (Edward Burns), whose sister died a mysterious death and who joins Beth in searching for answers.
Sossamon is competent as the bewildered victim, while Burns adds a certain depth to a fairly nondescript role. Supporting plays include Meagan Good ("Waist Deep"), Ray Wise ("Peaceful Warrior") and Azura Skye ("Wristcutters: A Love Story").
Production design is generally effective, however, the film's score generally is of the garden-variety horror type in which one can easily tell by the music when something bad is going to happen.
"One Missed Call" may very well hold over horror fans desperate for something even remotely near their beloved genre, however, gorehounds and true horror fans are likely to be disappointed. While not the disaster one might expect, the film remains one call you won't regret missing.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic