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One Missed Call (Chakushin ari) (2003)

  Directed by: Takashi Miike
Starring: Kou Shibasaki, Shinichi Tsutsumi
Links: One Missed Call on the IMDb
Genre: Suspense/Horror/Thriller

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Ringu, Ringu, why don't you give me a call…" - a review by mino

Normally, I'm not a great fan of your horror/thriller type movie. Too often, they're just an excuse for pissweak filmmaking — throw in a few cheap frights and some tense music, and you don't actually have to worry about making a good movie. Also, without wanting to bignote myself as supremo macho reviewer extraordinaire, I generally don't find them very scary. I think it's just because, as anyone who's seen Scream (1996) will tell you, there's usually a very strict set of rules that these movies follow which render them totally predictable. And given that most people catch on to this pattern by the time they've seen their second ‘scary movie’ — say, when they're eight — it kind of takes all the fun out of it.

There are two ways around this: one is to make an original, different, and totally unpredictable horror movie. That, however, requires original thought and cleverness, and let's face it, I'm not sure that the world's most original and clever directors are making too many horror movies these days. The other way (as attempted by the Scream series, with varying degrees of success) is to take it too far, to make a kind of tongue-in-cheek, fully hammed-up comedy-horror. One Missed Call is pretty much an example of the latter. It's not totally over-the-top, but it certainly doesn't take itself too seriously. It's wryly funny, poking fun at Japanese culture in the way that only the Japanese themselves can do. I'm not sure how well some of the humour translates, but it can't be too poorly, as I for one found it very funny.

And as for the horror aspects: well, let me clarify something up front. I haven't seen Ring (1998) yet, nor its American remake The Ring (2002) — but knowing the basic premise of those films, it's hard not to shake the impression that One Missed Call is, frankly, a bit of a ripoff. I'd be interested to hear from those who have seen those films as well as this one; but for me, I think I might have been advantaged by not having seen the Ring films. Anyway: One Missed Call is the story of a group of friends, one of whom gets a mysterious call on her cellphone — a voicemail, dated two days in the future, of herself… screaming. When two days later she carks it in exactly the fashion described, her friends are freaked. When another gets a call, and another… well, things get a bit hairy, to say the least. I mean — haunted cellphones. What could frighten Japanese youths more? Pure genius, I say.

One Missed Call is fairly by-the-book, and I don't think it will stretch anyone's brains too much. That said, I enjoyed it far far more than I thought I would. The frights are wonderfully executed, and the balance between fun and and horror is beautifully done. It's fun to laugh at, and it's fun to laugh at how much you get freaked out in parts. For a fairly light-hearted movie, it does a great job of keeping you on the edge of your seat, and if you're in the right mood — which I certainly was — it's very good fun indeed. I could easily see myself not being in the right mood but, fortunately for director Takashi Miike, I was feeling exactly like seeing exactly this kind of movie at the time. Hooray for well-timed horror, I say.

Ultimately stupid: but bloody good fun. And great to see in a large crowd.

mino gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 25 Aug 2004

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Reader comments

  1. While I admit it was much like Ju-on(The grudge) and the Ring, I very much enjoyed these films. I've often found the old 'Good always wins' theme rather overdone, and as such find this series to be an extreamly refreashing relief.

    An enjoyable film that is sure to send a chill up your spine.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Ebony on Sat 09 Dec 2006 14:30 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (1 rating)

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