One Missed Call

  • 2008-01-30
  • by Tim Ochser

MURDER BY NUMBERS: As if we didn't have enough to worry about, killer phantoms can now haunt mobile phones.

Director: Eric Valette

I generally dislike supernatural horror movies 's a staple of Hollywood ever since the 1970s 's simply because of their sheer idiocy. But "One Missed Call" takes the genre to a whole new dimension of ludicrousness.
Heavily inspired by "The Ring," with a teleological hint of "Final Destination" thrown in for good measure, the premise simply defies belief.

Something is haunting a group of teenagers' cell phones. It works like this: you get a phone call with an eerie ring tone. The caller then leaves a voicemail message dated one or two days ahead of time, which is actually your voice crying and screaming for help. When the date and time of the message comes around, you die a gruesome death. Then the techno-spook scrolls through your phone book and goes on to the next victim.
Beth Raymond (Shannyn Sossamon) is one of the teenagers involved. As her phone book contacts get knocked off one by one, she realizes she has to find the source of all the calls. Together with the help of Detective Jack Andrews (Edward Burns), whose sister is also done away with by the malevolent cellular spirit, they close in on the source of all this spiritual carnage.

"One Missed Call" is actually quite enjoyable viewing if only for the way it uses virtually every trick in the book to try and ratchet up the tension. There's the eerie musical motif (the ring tone), apparitions of grotesque creatures, the spooky use of an innocent object (a teddy bear with a concealed camcorder), child abuse and, of course, loads of cell phones.
In one particularly preposterous scene, a live TV exorcism takes place on one of the victims-to-be. The host kindly explains that spiritual disturbances can exist on the same frequency as radio waves and microwaves, before the techno spook dispatches the poor girl and leaves its calling card of a red candy in her mouth in full view of everyone (although the TV cameras only pick up static).

Even more astonishingly, at one point Beth has the bright idea of taking the battery out of her phone. Hey, no juice, no spook. But this spook somehow bypasses every known law of physics and still makes the call.
The only way for me to get through a movie like this with my brain intact is to analyze its many muddled subtexts, which are actually far, far more disturbing than the movie itself.

Opens Feb. 1 in Estonia, Feb. 8 in Latvia and Feb. 22 in Lithuania.

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