One Missed Call
Directed By: Eric Valette
Starring: Shannyn Sossamon, Ed Burns, Ana Claudia Talancón, Ray Wise, Azura Skye, Johnny Lewis
One Missed Call is a Hollywood remake of the Japanese horror film Chakushin ari. It falls into the high concept Japanese horror genre blending elements of The Ring and The Grudge. The story centers on a group of friends who are dying one by one under mysterious circumstances. Each death is followed by a call to a friend's cell phone from the number of the latest victim. The call results in a voice mail message with a future dated time stamp that contains the last moments of the call recipient's life. From that moment on, the call recipient begins to have strange waking hallucinations until, at the appointed time, they die under unusual circumstances with a red hard candy mysteriously appearing in their mouths. Central to the story are Beth (Sossoman), a student of child psychology connected to many of the victims in the chain of cell phone deaths, and Jack (Burns), a police officer whose sister was one of the earliest victims. With Jack's aid, Beth must ultimately race against the clock when she receives a voice mail message indicating she has less than a day to live.
This film is pretty much a mess. It throws a lot of things at the wall, so to speak, but does not wait to see if any of them stick before throwing more. The plot seems ripe for social satire on modern cell phone culture, but the film never makes anything of it. The hot button issue of child abuse is raised at multiple points in the film, but it ultimately has nothing to say about that either. As a matter of fact, the one scene where the child psychology student played by Sossoman actually interacts with a child is the most unintentionally hilarious in the whole film. The very fact that the film is so derivative of other recent entries in the Japanese horror genre creates an opportunity for subversion and satire, but the filmmakers do not appear to even have considered that. Finally, the Ray Wise character seems tailor-made to give a comeuppance to both reality television and televangelists, but …you guessed it… nada.
What the viewer is left with is a series of competent if unspectacular performances from a cast that wanders lost through a pointless exercise in slasher film teenage body count mixed with random nightmarish imagery. An attempt at throwing a plot twist into the explanation for the haunted cell phones is moderately interesting, but ultimately disappointing since it amounts to an inadequate explanation for the phenomenon. While I have no problem with movies that sometimes leave things mysterious and unexplained, I have no patience for films which settle for poor half-explanations.
The film comes to DVD with both a widescreen presentation that fills the entire 16:9 enhanced frame and a 4:3 presentation on separate sides of a double-sided single layered DVD-10 "flipper". I only watched the 16:9 presentation for the purpose of this review. The transfer is adequate, but at times appears to have the contrast boosted unnaturally in the video domain to artificially bring up shadow detail. This results in some grain-like noise appearing in certain darker scenes that pulses with digital artifacts. This is not a pervasive issue, but it does show up at least four to five times throughout the film. Edge ringing is not an issue.
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at a 384 kbps presents a modestly dimensional mix with very good dynamics that scores some points for avoiding the use of heavy underscore, allowing some of the tensest passages of the film to unfurl with only ambient sounds. Unfortunately, it occasionally loses points for excessive use of "stingers" to triple underline moments that are supposed to be scary. There is an asthma inhaler sound effect that has to be heard to be believed. Alternate 384 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are available in Spanish and French.
The DVD includes no bonus materials.
When this disc is first spun up, the viewer is greeted with the following skippable promotional spots, all presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound and in letterboxed 4:3 video unless indicated otherwise below:
- Anti-Piracy PSA using clips from Casablanca(1:00 - 4:3 full frame)
- DVD Trailer for The Sick House -This trailer includes gruesome images that I would not expect to see on a DVD for a PG-13 movie - (2:06 - 16:9 enhanced video)
- DVD Trailer for Otis(2:00)
- DVD Trailer for The Orphanage(:48 - 16:9 enhanced video)
- DTV Trailer for Lost Boys: The Tribe (1:29)
- Anti-tobacco PSA (:30)
The double-sided single-layered DVD-10 is packaged in a standard Amaray-style case with no inserts. The creepy cover art is scarier than anything in the movie, and makes this a rare new release DVD without any images of the primary cast on the front cover. This phenomenon seems to be more common for horror movies than other genres. Apparently the films are as star-proof as they are critic-proof.
A very disappointing horror film from Warner Bros. gets an adequate audio/video presentation and no extras whatsoever on DVD. I would take a pass on this one unless you are just dying to see a film that scored a perfect zero on the Rotten Tomatoes "Tomatometer".