Ringu…ringu… Sounds like my Japanese cell is going nuts again. Technohorror had its moment right around the Y2K panic. Now all those cool-blue ghosts seem about as silly as hoarding duct tape. So it’s hard to know what’s scarier—the fact that Asia keeps producing these movies, or that Hollywood keeps on remaking them.
Based on a rushed 2003 thriller by increasingly minor auteur Takashi Miike (Audition), One Missed Call begins with a montage of Americans deep in cellular communion, gesticulating, yammering, no doubt offending others. A billboard reads "Your phone. Your life." Alas, that’s about as trenchant as this remake gets. Until a film comes along that shows these people as the zombies they are (Stephen King’s forthcoming Cell is promising), we’ll have to make do with the premise that unfolds: killer voice mail. Beth (Sossamon) and her fashionably mussed entourage start receiving garbled messages from themselves, each of which ends with a scream. Can they stave off the inevitable? Or at least get more free minutes?
William Castle would have found a way to make all the cell phones in the theater vibrate with each kill. Despite some enjoyably loony overacting, the onscreen executions are dull, with some rather surprising lapses in photographic consistency. (One chase appears shot by two competing cameramen.) As the culprit shifts from the supernatural realm to that of evil caretakers, evil kids and—brace yourself—an evil teddy bear, the urge to leave the screening to take a call becomes irresistible.