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One Missed Call (aka. Chakushin ari, 2003)

Japanese Horror Film Directed By Takashi Miike

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Takashi Miike's Japanese Horror Original That Says Cell Phones Can be Hazardous To One's Health!

  • Nov 23, 2009


Cult horror favorite Takashi Miike takes on a more mainstream J-horror movie with “ONE MISSED CALL” (aka. Chakushin Ari, 2003) and yes, the film is a little different from Miike’s other films such as the brilliant “Audition” and the unnervingly almost satiric “Visitor Q”; “One Missed Call” is a little plagiaristic of other installments of Asian horror such as Hideo Nakata’s “Ringu”. The film was nonetheless very successful in the Asian box-office that it spawned two sequels, a TV series and inspired the horrible American remake with the same name. Miike is well-known for his brilliance in delivering the macabre, the twisted and the oddly bizarre; and with this film, he goes for straightforward frights and “paint by numbers” methodology in his horror approach with a script written by Minako Daira which is in turn, based on the novel by Yasushi Akimoto. 

Yumi Nakamura (Kou Shibasaki) is a young college student with a troubled past and what makes it worst is when some of her closest friends begin to drop dead. Yumi’s troubles begin when her friend Yoko (Anna Nagata) receives a troubling voicemail in her cell phone; the call came from her own cell phone, there’s a creepy ring tone and the phone call came from about 72 hours in the future. Then, Yoko does suffer a horrible death which the police writes off as a suicide. But Yoko’s tragic death is quickly followed by Kenji’s (Atsushi Isa) unexpected demise after receiving a strange message on his cell phone. Now Yumi’s friend Natsumi (Kazue Fukiishi) is the recipient of the strange ring tone and to make matters worst, the press has gotten wind of the strange phone calls and have made arrangements to shoot Natsumi’s final moments on camera. Yumi enlists the aid of Yamashita (Shinichi Tsutsumi), a man whose sister was also the victim of the macabre event. But can they save Natsumi before time runs out…and before they themselves receive a one missed call?


The film’s set up is very familiar and seems to merely replace the VHS tape in “Ringu” for a cell phone. Some may say that the film takes on a more satiric or social commentary on our reliance on cell phones or technological devices; while I do partly agree, the film really doesn’t carry that much social and cultural relevance besides the fact that people can’t seem to get by without a mobile device these days. The ring tone of doom does have its moments of scares and quite frankly, the film feels very commercial in its execution. Even the scene with the exorcism on TV appears to have been inspired by one of those episodes of “Tales from the Crypt” or from one of those horror comic books; but it does turn out to be the most noteworthy scene in the first half. In a way I believe the film was trying to show just how tactless the media can be when it comes to the ratings. It turns the believed urban legend into a public forum; little do the producers know that they were playing with fire. 


But one thing you have to remember, that this is a film by Takashi Miike, and one thing I know is the fact that he is anything but conventional. Despite the fact that “One Missed Call” suffers a bit from its first act, the film goes into a very interesting set of events when Yamashita and Yumi goes on to investigate the possible answers to the unexplained phenomena. Their quest leads them to an orphanage, an abandoned hospital and several other places in search for answers and to find out just how everything seems to lead to Marie and Mimiko Mizunuma. All the roads lead to a missing mother and her child who may have died under unsavory circumstances. This is a Miike film, so the twisted themes of child and sibling abuse are pretty commonplace. I thought the film really managed to present a compelling story when it went into the themes of ‘abuse spawning more abuse” and some attention-getting disorder. “One Missed Call” manages to find its footing with Miike’s strong direction and the manner that the viewer is kept wondering as to what would happen next and is kept in suspense as to what really is happening. The American remake failed miserably because it didn’t have the balls to follow through on the themes of child abuse. 


The film is also saved because of the performances of Kou Shibasaki and the supporting role of Shinichi Tsutsumi. The two effectively casts a good chemistry as they around trying to find answers. Characterization comes in the form of some flashbacks and they aid in making Yumi a compelling character and helps the film put everything together. The film also gets a lot creepier as it progresses. The film also has a killer final act in the hospital that just shows Miike’s skills as a horror director. The film avoids the usual cheap attempts at jump scares but while the images aren’t exactly new, Miike’s sense of timing and restraint made the hospital scene quite unnerving and freaky. I also liked the way he played with ‘scarlet shadows’ as this represents a demonic spirit bent on destruction. Plus, I’ve never seen hard candy and crawl spaces as a viable device in horror movies such as when executed by Miike.
Many would question some of the film’s motivations and devices as to what really happened in the last scenes; but if you were paying the utmost attention in the film’s entirety then one wouldn’t be alienated in the first place. “One Missed Call” is a film about loneliness, abuse and it does have a fakeout climax that when you thought it was over, it was just beginning with the real ending. The film’s final scene does present a head-scratching moment but this is where the film stops being imitative.
“One Missed Call” may not be one of Miike’s best films, nor is it one of the best movies in Japanese horror; but it is one of the best ones that follow a horror movie formula and genre conventions. It may not appeal too much for Takashi Miike fans but it is very much worth checking out for fans of Asian horror. The strong performances and the killer sequences in the hospital does give one a very ominous and freaky experience that makes “One Missed Call” very entertaining.
Highly Recommended! [4 Stars]
This is a Exclusive Review.



Takashi Miike's Japanese Horror Original That Says Cell Phones Can be Hazardous To One's Health! Takashi Miike's Japanese Horror Original That Says Cell Phones Can be Hazardous To One's Health!

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June 14, 2010
Dude love this film, the remake was, I guess ok.
More One Missed Call (aka. Chakushi... reviews
review by . April 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****     Here is a film that was almost on the good side of decent, but staggered right from the start. This causes the admittedly ambitious premise to go to nigh complete waste, and this also causes Takashi Miike's "One Missed Call" to come a bit short when it comes to scares, entertainment, story, characters, or anything, for the matter.    Yet, this is not quite a bad film. It's about a mysterious phone-call that people keep getting. The voice …
review by . February 18, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Every time I hear that America is redoing any film I automatically know that I have to see the original first. I'm not hating on my own country but hey, they don't always get it right. So when I saw the preview for One Last Call I seriously thought that maybe this could quite possibly be one of the dumbest movies ever made. If you think about it the movie is like the little girl from "The Ring" has become lord of the cell phones. You can't lie and say that it doesn't sound like that but hey sometimes …
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About this movie



Director: Takashi Miike
Genre: Horror, Mystery
Release Date: 2003.11.3 (Tokyo International Film Festival), 2003.12.5 (Sitges Film Festival), 2004.1.17
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Minako Daira
Runtime: 112 minutes
Studio: Kadokawa-Daiei Eiga K.K.
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