We apologize for the lateness of this post, life has been…overwhelming me.
Ah Takashi Miike. He’s such a fascinating filmmaker. He blows through film productions at a speed that would have Tyler Perry telling him to slow down, and often with a similar level of predictability. The difference is (besides the fact that Miike is an excellent filmmaker) that Miike is often fully aware of how cliched his films and stories are, and is using those cliches to wrap a single element that makes the film stand out. Audition is, up until the finale, a straightforward stalker film, and then it goes completely off the rails. And I can’t stand Audition, it’s just a good example. But, as impressive as that talent is, it’s not one that, shall we say, works well in translation.
To even have the potential to appreciate One Missed Call, you have to believe one thing: Miike is kidding. I have no real proof for this, except that it feels like it. The movie is a mass of cliches, and the actual premise of the film so silly (it’s about a killer cellphones, for god’s sake) that part of me assumes that it has to be kidding. Of course there are still some moments that are just bats**t off the wall insane, like the, you know, phone exorcism, but it functions much better as a parody of the J-Horror tropes that were popular at the time then it does as a straightforward example of them.
Okay, that’s not fair, even as a straight horror film, it still has some merit. The scene on the train still gets me, and as twists go, its final one is not without merit. Miike is, and always has been, a major talent by any standards, and he’s more than capable of handling a simple horror flick. Admittedly the subject matter might make it harder to make a solid horror flick (I wanna reiterate that the premise is haunted cellphones), but most of its scares work.
Of course if we work from the premise that it’s intended as a straight example of the genre, well that’s where the problems wander in. Most of the story is pretty predictable, if you’re at all familiar with the wave of Ringu knockoffs that swept Japan in the wake of…well Ringu. The character work is pretty meh, and it lacks even Ju-On‘s interesting presentation (although that came with its own set of problems…you know what, I’m just gonna keep going and not stop and talk about The Grudge right now).
Still, I’m inclined to believe that it’s intended at least partially as a parody, if only because I refuse to believe that the man who made Dead or Alive would play a movie this boring straight. If it is being played straight…eh, it won’t make the list of the best Ringu knockoffs ever anytime soon, but it’s serviceable enough I guess. I like some of Miike’s work enough (especially Ichii the Killer or the aformentioned Dead or Alive) enough to give him the benefit of the doubt. But Miike’s creative style is not the sort of thing that, shall we say, translates very well. He’s a very unique filmmaker, and if you take him out of the equation of any of his movies and then run it through the studio system…well let’s just say, you might be in trouble, regardless of what country the remake is being made in.
Good lord this movie sucks.
Sorry, I try to be a little more coy about my opinions, but holy s**t, this movie is completely dead air. Of course part of that is kind of predictable: If you take a movie that only works if you assume it’s kidding about large chunks of its plot and makes up the difference with an incredibly talented director, remove the elements that could be considered satirical and give it a much less talented director and you’re going to end up with an incredibly lifeless movie.
The only interesting part of the movie is the design on the…monsters? Hallucinations? What they are is not particularly well explained (I think they’re supposed to be ghosts, but the movie is not particularly good at communicating it, and Wikipedia says they’re supposed to be hallucinations, but I wasn’t totally clear on that. Anyway, they’re solidly designed, even if the design is kind of given away on the freaking poster and seems more than a little pulled from the design of the Corinthian from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. Oh and then the film ruins it by slapping the Jacob’s Ladder blurred face effect over it, but you know, at least they’re conceptually interesting.
Aside from that though, the movie is pretty dull. There are some moments where the movie crosses over into hilariously bad (such as the moment where one the characters actually says a variation on “Let’s split up to cover more ground,” or the incredible miscalculation that we would find a CGI demonic baby frightening) but for the most part it’s just dead air. Clue is overall scarier, and the descriptions of scenery in Les Miserables more interesting.
I’m actually kind of running out of material to talk about with this movie. It’s easily the worst of the movies I’ve reviewed this month and probably one of the worst overall. It also had the effect of bringing the J-Horror remake craze to a screeching halt (for context, it cost twice as much as The Grudge to make and brought in just under 1/4th as much money). A few stragglers managed to slip their way past, but the wave was over. Which is why, for our last week of Remaketober, we’re going back a few years to a movie that, for once, probably wasn’t intended as a Ringu knockff.
Remake sure as s**t was though.