Week 1: One Missed Call

Do you have Prince Albert in a can?
Movie: One Missed Call
MPAA#: 43719
Movie Tagline: What will it sound like when you die?
Tagline Should Be: When you die, you hear the ringtone.
Showtime: 8:45 PM
Companions: none
Attendance: approximately 100
Weather: warm outside, snow melting
Food: boxes of Jelly Bellies and Mini Tootsie Rolls from Blockbuster ($7), bottle of Coke from vending machine ($3)
Expectations: low
Expectations met?: yes
Pre-show Ads: milk; Hyundai; milk again

  • In The Name of the King: Jason Statham takes his euro-fu to the middle ages, apparently. Do not want.
  • Meet the Spartans: incredibly unfunny looking spoof in the vein of the Wayans Bros. films a few years ago. The Gerard Butler lookalike (or perhaps it’s actually him; he seems keen to be in everything) keeps kicking celebrities into the pit. Arg. I hope to God it doesn’t show up in Cinema 3 later this year.
  • Possession: not to be confused with the film based on A.S. Byatt’s novel, appears to be another J-horror remake starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, who must surely be sitting in a trailer on a backlot somewhere right now wondering where it all went wrong. My guess would be when she accepted Freddie Prinze Jr’s phone number.
  • Fool’s Gold: Matthew McConaghey and Kate Hudson hunt for treasure, I guess? The trailers are 4 for 4 this week in that they all look terrible.

I was in a mood to watch a bad movie the other night so I went to the local decaplex and psyched myself up for a late Friday night show of what looked like the latest schlocky J-horror remake. I was expecting to sit near hooting teenagers, yawn through contrived attempts at scaring me; but the movie was sold out, much to my surprise. I wound up seeing National Treasure: Book of Secrets instead, which was an ordinary kind of by-the-numbers action movie, roughly inserting probes in my listless pleasure centres while I sat back and thought of England. It wasn’t a total loss, at least: as my mind wandered away from preposterous set pieces, I had the idea for this blog. And so here we are, a couple of days later, and One Missed Call is the movie that has determined what movie theatre I will be sitting in every week for the rest of this year.

And the winner is: cinema 3, a not unpleasant stadium style Empire Theatres facility that seats approximately 130, with an exit adjacent to the lower level washrooms. I need to find myself some kind of pen with a light attached, but in the meantime I can use the aisle footlights to write notes by discreetly leaning over to one side. If anyone happens to see, they might naturally assume that I am discreetly taking nips from a flask; hardly unusual in this town.

Anyway, One Missed Call stars Shannyn Sossamon as Beth and Steady Eddie Burns as the most generic sounding detective of all time, Jack Andrews. It is a remake of the Japanese film Chakushin Ari; the new version was written by Andrew Klavan, who wrote the novels that were the basis of Clint Eastwood’s True Crime and Michael Douglas’ Don’t Say A Word. It’s directed by Eric Valette, a relatively new French director who has done some TV work and an interesting sounding feature called Maléfique. As of this writing, One Missed Call has opened at #5 with around $13 million in ticket sales; not sure what its budget was. It currently has a shocking 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and appears to be the very definition of a January dump, in which studios unload their leftover turkeys on a public still punch-drunk from Christmas (cf. Torque, Darkness).

Of course, this blog is not about the Entertainment Tonight tracking data; it’s about the experience of seeing movies, and my experience was really not that bad. I mean, sure, the movie is pretty bad. It recycles ideas and imagery that were used more effectively in the remakes of The Ring and The Grudge and even Pulse; but it could have been a lot worse. Of the other phone-oriented movies that spring to mind, I would say I enjoyed it more than Cellular but less than When A Stranger Calls. Shannyn Sossamon is not bad to look at, and the poor girl does manage to keep a straight face the whole time, but as I noted in my journal, this movie would have been a lot better with some nudity. Lots of it. Also, a different ringtone when the dead folks call; “My Humps,” perhaps.

But no, instead we are treated to the checklist of J-horror clichés: distorted faces, black water, centipedes, electrical noises, ghosts that pursue us through machinery, hallucinations, possessed and/or catatonic little girls. The script takes great pains to show us how Beth was abused as a child and imply that the vengeful ghost is a dead mother of two, only to reveal that (gasp!) the mother’s ghost is trying to protect Beth from her crazy dead daughter, who died of an asthma attack while trying to dial her cell phone for help. So the point is.. child abuse is bad? Or kids are actually evil? It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Dear Hollywood: I know it sells on CSI week after week, but people don’t actually like to watch children die, even “evil” ones, kthx.

Other weird stuff going on in this movie: unnecessary catricide in the prologue; Margaret Cho in a throwaway role as Mickey, the least sympathetic cop ever; Ray Wise as the host of a cheesy paranormal TV show; the burned-out hospital looks suspiciously like the school from Prom Night. There is a credit for “Teeth” and for some reason Netscape gets a credit. Netscape still exists? Is it perhaps the preferred web browser of the dead?

One Missed Call creaks to its inevitable conclusion, leaving a key cast member alive in a very optimistic bid for a sequel that we can only pray will never come. Sarah Michelle Gellar should be getting that call from her agent any minute now.

Bottom line: pretty terrible. Fails to address the fundamental disconnect between original J-horror and American remakes, which is that the Japanese have more deeply rooted beliefs in spirits and hauntings and so on, making it difficult to translate for our culture. Also, very frustrating to see million-dollar special effects in service of a ten-cent script (*cough*Silent Hill*cough*). Hopefully it won’t be held over so I won’t have to watch it again next week.

Crowd reaction at end of movie: sarcastic applause and a few people saying “that was terrible.”
Credit cookie?: no.
For further consideration: if this movie is the new Ring, is Ed Burns the new Martin Henderson? And is that a step up or down?
Opening next weekend: First Sunday; In The Name of the King; The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie.
Please God, anything but: ordinarily I would have said the Veggie Tales movie, but apparently that Statham movie was directed by Uwe Boll.

That’s it for this week; see you next Sunday.


About Scott M

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