Movie News & Reviews

"One Missed Call" fails to ring clearly

I myself had one missed call when I left the theater after the latestJ-horror remake "One Missed Call."

This might have been unsettling if a) the movie had been any good andb) cell phones were in any way frightening.

The only thing I'm scared of with my phone is I'll forget to turn it off during a movie, get a call (I get one, sometimes two a week, so you never know), then get KO'd by a hail of JujyFruits. And JujyFruits aren't even that good, so it's not like I'd have much fun if I ate them afterwards. Not to say I wouldn't.

And not that a film like "One Missed Call" lives or dies by the amountof terror a cell phone can induce. I don't think clowns are scary, infact I like them, which I know is an unpopular opinion in thisanti-jestite age, but "It" and "Killer Clowns From Outer Space" hadtheir moments. Above all others, horror movies can turn common thingsinto powerful things -- it's just that when they don't get the job done,they look all the more ridiculous.

When one of Shannyn Sossamon's friends is drowned in a pond by aghastly figure, it looks like an accident. Sossamon isn't sure aboutthat, though, and after another of her friends receives a voicemailfrom herself in the future only to die at the exact time recorded onthe message, she begins to suspect something unnatural is afoot.

The policewoman she brings her evidence to brushes her off, butdetective Ed Burns, whose own sister recently died under curiouscircumstances, is more receptive to Sossamon's story. As the callskeep coming, predicting the death of everyone who gets them, Burns andSossamon begin to piece together the pattern that will lead them tothe calls' source.

For most of "One Missed Call's" runtime, which feels lots longer thanits 87 minutes, it's in that dull not-very-good stage where weirdthings happen to run-of-the-mill characters who aren't around for muchmore than upping the body count as the leads try to unravel theMystery of the Dying Steamy-Bodied Youths.

Not particularly tense or interesting -- it's hard to build suspensewhen you have no idea how the magic kill-you guy's rules work -- themovie isn't terrible, either; in fact, if the ending had pulledtogether all the supernatural nonsense in a halfway creepy manner, itcould have redeemed the whole movie. Not up into "Pitch Black" or"The Descent" territory, but maybe something like "Final Destination."A little dumb, but fun enough.

That, however, is not the case here.

Instead, once they finally start figuring out what's going on, itturns out what's going on has been an awful lot of crazy foolishness.Oh, there's a cause for it all, but the paranormal needs to have somelogic behind it other than more paranormal Daffy Duckery that makeseven less sense. They may as well have said "The Mummy did it! Nevertrust a man in bandages," then rolled credits.

But like a "Twilight Zone" episode where the writer died halfwaythrough the script, leaving director and crew in a confusedgorilla-panic, "One Missed Call" then sputters on for a surprise twistthat, in something of a Bizarro World double-twist, doesn't reallychange anything at all. A pile of crazy foolishness that makes thatfirst pile of crazy foolishness look sane and sensible by comparison,it's a dopey wrap-up that shoots for dark and hits dreadful instead.I tell you what, I walked out with a smile on my face.

That experience is better left for Netflix than a theater, I'd say.There's a reason movies get dumped off in January with just a coupleweeks of trailers (that reason is not because they're so great theyneed no advertising at all). When a movie's biggest draw is itspleasant-looking lead and a few minutes of silliness right there atthe end, we've all got better things to do with our time.

Grade: D