Review Day 09: One Missed Call (2003)
The late 90s and early 00s was such a peak time for Japanese horror, with films like Ringu (1998), Ju-On (2002) and Pulse (2001) making waves worldwide. These films scared and terrified audiences, bringing in different shades of horror and themes. Notable Japanese director Takashi Miike known for Audition (1999), Ichi the Killer (2001) and 13 Assassins (2010) ventured into the more supernatural and ghostly territory of the Onryō with One Missed Call (2003) based on the novel Chakushin Ari by Yasushi Akimoto.
The story revolves around a group of friends, when one of them a girl named Yoko (Anna Nagata) receives a strange phone call, not with their usual ring tone and the message left is from herself but two days in the future. Leaving them all a bit stunned, her friend Yumi (Ko Shibasaki) feels especially uneasy about it. When Yumi receives a call from Yoko, it plays out like the strange message at the exact same time and day it was left, and Yoko dies under mysterious circumstances. Yumi decides to investigate what is going on, when another friend who received the same kind of message dies suddenly in front of her. She is led to a man named Hiroshi (Shin’ichi Tsutsumi), whose sister died under these same circumstances and he wants to find out what really happened. The mystery slowly begins to unravel it is soon clear they are dealing with something truly vengeful.
One Missed Call has perhaps a little too much in common with Ringu, the use of the phone calls, the investigation and the mysterious entity haunting them, however Miike handles the material differently and while there are those similarities they both feel like very different films. There are tropes that come with these Japanese horror films, it is all about how they get executed and here they do fairly well for the most part. The plot can be a bit convoluted and messy at times, more so towards the latter half, the performances and the atmosphere definitely help to hold interest and investment with this film. Ko Shibasaki really helps carry the film as Yumi, bringing in all the right emotions and terror, while not over doing the performance.
At it’s core there is a very sad story inside One Missed Call, a tragedy that is heartbreaking and brings to light different types of physical abuse that children can suffer. This is something a bit different from Miike, he is a filmmaker that can do any genre and make his own mark on it and that is no different here. This doesn’t feel overly like something you would expect to see from him, but there are elements there that set this aside from the other horror films of this time and it has that Miike touch. This is a film to be recommended if you enjoy Japanese horror and haven’t gotten around to seeing this one.
Review written by Marcella Papandrea