One Missed Call (2004)



Takashi Miike has long been considered cinema's leading anarchist Titles like Ichi the Killer, Audition, and Dead or Alive have given him the reputation as a shock-meister who enjoys playing sadistic mind-games with his audience So it may come as a surprise that the director's latest horror film finds him entering more commercial territory

Poor Yumi (Kou Shibasaki) is a popular high school girl with one problem: Her friends keep getting picked off by a bizarre otherworldly curse Chosen victims receive terrifying calls from their own cell phones from three days in the future Three days later (surprise!), they're found dead under mysterious circumstances When her best friend receives the dreaded call, Yumi teams up with Yamashita (Shinichi Tsutsumi), a troubled man whose sister was a prior victim; and in true Scooby-Doo fashion they set out to solve the mystery. Could this be the work of another longhaired ghost with a chip on its shoulder? Possibly

Okay, it's no secret: One Missed Call's story is highly derivative of Hideo Nakata's Ring as well as several other recent Asian horrors Some enthusiasts may even recall last year's Phone, an utterly generic movie that also involved cellular curses Miike, a self-professed Ring fan, has peppered his films with numerous references and visual gags (see The Happiness of the Katakuris and Zebraman), so the resemblance comes off as no real surprise

That being said, One Missed Call brings much more to the table than you might expect

In essence, this is the Kill Bill of the horror genre - an homage film that cleverly brings together its influences with a perfect understanding of the material As scarred viewers of Audition already know, Miike is especially adept at creating genuine terror, and he hits another home run here. Combining the dread atmosphere of Nakata's films with the unrelenting nightmare imagery of the Ju-On series, the result is a movie that captures all the best aspects of J-horror while proving to be just as scary as the films that inspired it

The story contains Miike's unique brand of eccentric characters as well as a razor-sharp satirical edge that would make Oliver Stone gush Without giving too much away, the film's centerpiece involves a live television broadcast, brilliantly mixing nail-biting tension and pitch-black humor It's an imaginative genre-defining sequence that will make even the most jaded viewer sit up and take notice

Typically, the end product will see many divided opinions (it wouldn't be a true Miike film otherwise) Some will be turned off by its familiar approach, while other fans might accuse the director of "selling out." Nevertheless, One Missed Call is an entertaining love letter to J-horror that delivers on the scary goods and will have many staring nervously at their cell phones for years to come

Chakushin ari - One Missed Call (2003)
(Kadokawa-Daiei Eiga K.K.)
Directed by Takashi Miike
Starring Kou Shibasaki, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Kazue Fukiishi, Atsushi Ida



3 out of 5

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