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  One Missed Call

Starring: Shannyn Sossamon, Edward Burns, Ana Claudia Talancon, Ray Wise

Directed by: Eric Valette

Produced by: Scott Kroopf, Lauren C. Weissman, Jennie Lew Tugend, Broderick Johnson, et. al

Written by: Andrew Klavan

Distributor: Warner Bros.


     First, a few facts: 1) One Missed Call is a remake of a Japanese horror film by Takashi Miike called Chakushin ari, placing it in a group of films are not usually of high-quality; 2) the movie is being released in January, a month known as a “dumping ground” for major distributors; 3) there were no press-screenings for the movie, meaning that the studio didn’t have much confidence in the possibility of critics liking it. When one considers all of the above, it seems to be no small wonder that the reviews for One Missed Call have, indeed, been less-than-stellar. After all, nearly everyone is a victim of their own biases – even those of us who write about Film regularly and try to free our minds of predisposition. Could it be that the movie has been dubbed a typical “January crapshoot” because it fits the description of one, not because it actually is?

     I believe that One Missed Call is likely being unfairly judged because of the aforementioned convenient facts. It’s easy to dismiss a movie like this before forming a rational opinion on it. That’s not to say that One Missed Call is some sort of accomplished masterwork; in fact, I don’t even really recommend the movie. But to say that it is as bad as The Grudge films, Pulse, or The Ring 2 is a complete overreaction: the film is not without its merits. It is beautifully photographed; never relies on quick, MTV-style cutting to get its point across; features an incredibly-likable lead performance from the beautiful Shannyn Sossamon; and taps into some intriguing themes even if they don’t really add up in the end. Frankly, One Missed Call never even approaches the realm of being painful to the viewer, let alone being artistically offensive.

     The premise is tacky and typical of obscure Japanese-horror (or “J-horror” for short), but hits all of the right notes that it needs to in order to be preposterously entertaining. Sossamon plays protagonist Beth Raymond, a college-aged young-woman whose friends are dying in mysterious ways. First, Shelley Baum (Meagan Good, in an auspicious one-scene cameo) is found and suspected of drowning herself in a small coy-pond. Shortly afterwards, Beth’s other friend Leann (Azura Skye) receives a mysterious voice-message from Shelley’s cell-phone that is dated in the future, in which Leann is heard screaming. Before she comes to understand the message, Leann jumps off an overpass while having schizophrenic delusions at the exact same time that the message was supposedly sent. The chain repeats itself with Brian Sousa (Johnny Lewis), another one of Beth’s friends. Desperate to figure out what is happening and to save herself from becoming a “missed call”-casualty, Beth teams up with detective Jack Andrews (Edward Burns) to investigate. In fact, Jack’s recently-dead sister may have been killed in the exact same way that Beth’s friends were. 

     In its third act, One Missed Call gives into the type of absolute lunacy typical of American adaptations of J-horror films. There are tacky special effects and hammy plot-epiphanies aplenty. Still, to ignore the many things that the movie accomplishes does it a great disservice. As I touched on before, director Eric Valette employs a very toned-down approach for this type of material. With few in-your-face technical flourishes present, his embrace of a more-classical style is highly appreciable. Cinematographer Glen MacPherson’s stunning command of imagery allows him to employ this technique without worrying. In front of the camera, actress Sossamon further proves that, despite her frequent ventures into strange pictures, she has some strong acting chops and an amiable presence. (For a terrific performance, check out her work in Wristcutters: A Love Story, one of the most criminally under-seen movies of last year.) With these select admirable traits in tow, One Missed Call certainly proves itself a mildly-interesting sit. It couldn’t be more different from the godawful January release that far too many critics have pegged it as being.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 1.7.2008

Screened on: 1.4.2008 at the Edwards San Marcos 18 in San Marcos, CA.


One Missed Call is rated PG-13 and runs 86 minutes.

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