One Missed Call

Following where he once led, maverick Japanese director Takashi Miike makes his belated contribution to the J-horror subgenre of urban legends involving schoolgirls and cursed technology with a derivative but still effective horror picture. Intro psychology student Yumi (Kuo Shibasaki) is in the ladies' room of a restaurant with her friend, Yoko (Anna Nagata),...read more

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Reviewed by Ken fox
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Following where he once led, maverick Japanese director Takashi Miike makes his belated contribution to the J-horror subgenre of urban legends involving schoolgirls and cursed technology with a derivative but still effective horror picture. Intro psychology student Yumi (Kuo Shibasaki) is in the ladies' room of a restaurant with her friend, Yoko (Anna Nagata), when a cell phone rings with a creepy, childlike tune. It's Yoko's phone, but she doesn't recognize the ring tone and doesn't answer; when she retrieves her messages moments later, she notices that the date and time of the missed call indicate that it was made at 11:04 pm — on the day after tomorrow. Stranger still, when Yoko listens to the message she hears her own voice, followed by a blood-curdling scream. Two nights later, Yoko calls Yumi as she's crossing a train overpass on her way home. At exactly 11:04 pm, Yoko plummets to her death. The police rule it a suicide — two witnesses say Yoko was alone at the time — and dismiss Yumi's insistence that Yoko's voice mail foretold her death. Rumors begin circulating that Yoko, like her friend who died a few days before in a bizarre diving accident, was the victim of a curse capable of attaching itself to a number stored in a cell-phone's address book, then transmitting itself to another person's phone. Two days later, Yoko's new beau, Kenji (Atsushi Ida), admits that shortly after Yoko's death he, too, missed a call apparently placed that very afternoon. In the message he could hear himself screaming. Sure enough, at the appointed time, Yumi watches in horror as Kenji is dragged by invisible hands into an empty elevator shaft. Clearly, whatever is killing Yumi's friends isn't human — or even alive — and it's only a matter of time before it gets Yumi's number. Tossing out their phones doesn't occur to these kids until fairly late in the game, but Miike isn't particularly interested critiquing the obsession of Japanese youth with technology (although he does take on exploitation TV). This gentler, more commercially minded Miike offers up a standard Japanese ghost story that telegraphs its themes right off the bat and cribs from such blockbusters as RINGU (1998), JU-ON (2000), PHONE (2002), DARK WATER (2001) and TOMIE (1999). And for the most part, the scary-movie machinations work despite the convenient coincidences and logistical lapses typical of the genre. The film is slow and somber during the windup but pretty scary in the follow-through, and is sure to set its core audience — teenaged Japanese girls — to screaming every time a cell phone chirps.

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Following where he once led, maverick Japanese director Takashi Miike makes his belated contribution to the J-horror subgenre of urban legends involving schoolgirls and cursed technology with a derivative but still effective horror picture. Intro psycholog… (more)

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