One Missed Call 1 & 2
One Missed Call (January 7/08)
Stylish visuals aside, One Missed Call is almost entirely bereft of elements designed to capture and hold the viewer's interest - which is admittedly not that surprising, given filmmaker Takashi Miike's impressively awful track record. Miike's penchant for cranking out several flicks a year has essentially ensured that here's virtually no quality control within his movies, and there's consequently little doubt that One Missed Call generally comes off as the latest expectedly worthless entry within the director's increasingly pathetic body of work. The film - which follows a group of teenagers as they're forced to battle an evil spirit that's haunting their cell phones - moves at precisely the sort of plodding pace that one has come to associate with the J-horror genre, while Minako Daira's absurdly convoluted screenplay ensures that even the most astute viewer will have problems comfortably following the storyline. At the movie's core is a mystery that simply isn't even remotely interesting, though it's clear immediately that the complete and utter lack of interesting characters proves to be One Missed Call's death knell (ie there's nobody here to root for). And while the movie is ultimately not a whole lot worse than the majority of Miike's efforts, one can't help but scratch one's head over the continued success of such an overtly incompetent filmmaker.
One Missed Call 2
Set a year after the original, One Missed Call 2 follows a young teacher (Mimura's Kyoko Okudera) as she receives a message forewarning her own death and subsequently embarks on a tedious investigation to figure out who/what is behind the deadly phone calls (which has already claimed the lives of a friend and a friend's father). Although it boasts a few admittedly creepy images and sequences - ie Kyoko spots a long-haired girl behind a pal during a video call - One Missed Call 2 suffers from an atmosphere of pervasive pointlessness that's compounded by its overlong running time and frustratingly deliberate pace. There's simply never a point at which the viewer is drawn into the proceedings, with the almost stunning lack of character development ensuring that one is consistently prevented from working up a shred of interest or sympathy in the protagonist's increasingly perilous plight. And as overwhelmingly dull as the opening hour is, it's certainly preferable to the oppressive tedium of the film's third act - as the surviving characters find themselves stumbling around a dark mineshaft searching for clues and avoiding the long-haired villain. This is to say nothing of filmmaker Renpei Tsukamoto's shameless theft of images and elements from other, better horror movies, as the director evokes everything from Audition (the creepy sack) to Carrie (that hand emerging from the ground) in his efforts at establishing an atmosphere of spookiness. The absurd and downright baffling twist ending cements One Missed Call 2's place as a rather worthless piece of work, which isn't, admittedly, all that surprising given the extremely lackluster nature of its predecessor.