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one missCaLL 2

The feeling one gets after finishing up the plodding One Missed Call 2 is strikingly similar to watching one of the later Hellraiser sequels. Not only is it a sequel that doesn’t hold the faintest of candles to the original, its ties to the original seem to barely hold on by the slenderest of threads.

Takashi Miike’s original, while vilified for being a “derivative” work from a director whose films are some of the most original and satisfying pieces of Japanese cult cinema, was still a surprisingly solid piece of J-Horror. It came across as less of a “real” effort, and more as a tribute/joke on the part of Miike, mixing practically every genre cliché into a pot with a rock-solid set of “rules” for the film to follow. It was quite simple: character receives phone call (complete with spooky ring tone) from themselves, calling three days from the future. Character answers call from self, hears sound of their own grisly death, then plays the waiting game until three days later when death comes crashing down upon them. Of course, you can also expect for some characters to try and break the cycle, and somehow cheat death. It’s simple “rules” like this that allow for genuine edge-of-your-seat thrills, as the viewer can intelligently anticipate what’s going to happen without on screen exposition. You knew that there were seven days to live after watching Ringu’s video tape, that sleep on Elm Street could be fatal, as could sex on Crystal Lake. These are the simplest of concepts for people to wrap their heads around, and gives them a familiar feeling that can make or break a sequel.

Knowing this, why the hell did they change so much?

Within the first few minutes, we’ve already hit our first snag: a girl’s fateful call is intercepted by her father, who believes it to be her boyfriend that he despises. “I told you it’s dangerous to leave oil on the gas,” she warns from her own phone, before screaming her death-cry. Mere minutes later, her father is found by the waiter Naoto, his face stir-fried in a wok.

So, now not only do the calls arrive seemingly at random without the aforementioned three-day period, they can be “passed on” to whomever the poor schmuck is that picks up the phone? I expect these sorts of mutations sometime later on in the franchise, when the formula has become so stale that they pretty much need to throw a curveball at us in order to keep ideas fresh. If they decide to do this in the second freaking film, I tend to get a little worried.

The string of new deaths doesn’t go unnoticed, be it by the obsessed police inspector from the first film, or the mind-bogglingly gorgeous journalist Takako Nozoe. Together with Naoto and his girlfriend Kyoko, the latest victim to receive the call (and the only call to follow the three-day rule, it seems), they discover a similar epidemic in Taiwan which has its roots in the legend of Li Li, a little girl who years before had foretold the deaths of her entire village.

Okay, so now we understand the “rule changes.” Apparently we’re dealing with an entirely different angry little ghost girl who spreads death across the networks? I’m all for suspending disbelief, but come on! Times like this, I wonder if One Missed Call 2 was a script reworking like Saw 2, a thematically similar screenplay with a few names plugged in to quickly make a new film to cash in on the popularity of the first. It would be even easier than the aforementioned Saw 2, as a lot of these Japanese horror flicks are practically carbon copies of one another. Unfortunately, it seems like OMC2 is little more than one of those unremarkable carbon copies.

It does try, however, to elevate itself to something a little meatier than another “little girl lost” ghost story. Miwako Daira liberally peppers the story with some emotional moments that make you care at least a little for the characters. There’s moments of love, redemption, and sacrifice to add some substance to what otherwise would have been an utterly forgettable knock-off. These tender moments almost offset some of the more eye-rolling moments, including a girl slowly creeping over the edge of a well (Oh Christ) and a confusing, twisty-turny ending that was nothing short of lame. For those of you who have seen the first one (and it’s not exactly required viewing to understand this barely connected sequel), you’ll probably catch yourself thinking “Now they bring back the red candy?”

Released in a two-disc set by Media Blasters’ Tokyo Shock imprint, One Missed Call 2’s presentation is thankfully better than the film itself. Despite the blacks being very, very light (almost gray in places), colors were decently bright and virtually no print damage was visible. Audio was quite nice in the Japanese mixes with good surround channel separation and near-perfect mixing. The English dub, however, simply takes the cake for sheer cheesiness. There’s a reason I always watch in the original language, and this is just another example why. Extras include trailers, a making-of documentary, TV spots, interviews, and the short film “Gomu.” Gomu, a sort of comedic take on the One Missed Call themes, was unfortunately lost on me. Maybe I can’t get the joke, but it simply struck me as too much buildup for not enough punchline. Ironically enough, OMC2 seems to have the same problem. It’s simply too much buildup for what could’ve been at least entertaining, instead of the mediocre follow up that it turned out to be.


February 12, 2011 - Posted by | ► Movie ◄

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