DIRECTORS: TAKASHI MIIKE (1), RENPEI TSUKAMOTO (2), MANABU ASO (FINAL) / SCREENPLAY: MINAKO DAIRA (1, 2, FINAL), YASUSHI AKIMOTO (2), SHIRO KUROI (FINAL) / STARRING: KO SHIBASAKI (1), SHINICHI TSUTSUMI (1), MIMURA (2), RENJI ISHIBASHI (1, 2), PETER HO (2), MAKI HORIKITA (FINAL), MEISA KUROKI (FINAL), YUN-SEOK JANG (FINAL) / REVIEWED: BLU-RAY / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 24TH
After the debut of Ringu and Ju-on: The Grudge, Japanese Horror was at the height of its popularity at the turn of the Millenium. So, in 2003, legendary filmmaker Takashi Miike brought the world the latest Japanese horror sensation, One Missed Call (not to be confused with the abysmal American remake from 2008). The film, which borrows similar story beats to its terrifying predecessors, spawned a trilogy with One Missed Call 2coming in 2005 and the finale, aptly titled One Missed Call: Finale, hitting theatres in 2006. And now - courtesy of Arrow Video - the entire trilogy is available on Blu-Ray for western audiences for the first time.
As previously mentioned, the narrative of the series as a whole predominately lifts its basic setup for curse-based horror tales, but what sets One Missed Call apart from its peers is its unique use of technology that was still in its infancy at the time - mobile phones. The curse is simple - someone receives a phone call (accompanied by the now iconic ringtone) and the answer message that is left is from them at a point in the near future, and they hear how they die courtesy of the evil spirit Mimiko. Once the prophecy of the call comes true, a number, seemingly at random, in their phone book is the next on the list to receive the deadly call.
The first film, directed by Miike, successfully delivers a solid set up for the series as is easily the best-directed film of the three which is down to the master himself. Even though the script is arguably average at best, Miike's attention to detail, framing each shot perfectly to put the viewer on edge and having some truly awesome death sequences, the film manages to be a satisfying scare-fest that will make you look differently at your phone or perhaps delete your contact list entirely, just in case. The antagonist of the piece Mimiko is also an interesting villain as she has a decent backstory. It also leaves things open appropriately for a sequel whilst also working well as a standalone piece.
One Missed Call 2, unfortunately, fails to follow up on the success of the first film by implementing what most horror sequels do - adding another unwarranted villain to the proceedings and giving them a long-winded and convoluted backstory that bores and confuses audiences rather than scaring them. The film itself isn't all that bad as the protagonists are well performed and some of the emotional beats between them are compelling and engaging - although overall, this instalment added very little to the franchise.
However, the finale takes the best of both its predecessors, shifts the tone and becomes a sort of chain letter meets Final Destination 90-minute gorefest. The curse in this instalment has evolved and a girl named Asuka attempts to commit suicide, allowing Mimiko to latch onto this vulnerable soul and gives her the ability to send the curse to any of the phones that her classmates and bullies posses by clicking on their face on a school portrait. Bullying is very much at the centre of the film and that emotional grounded weight, along with some hilarious brawling between the scumbag teenagers who are at fault for the poor girl's pain that don't want the curse "forwarded" to them. Great performances, cool deaths and a solid moral dilemma and emotional narrative make the finale the most overall enjoyable instalment in the franchise but the least scary - but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
The One Missed Call trilogy is a solid J-Horror franchise that didn't really invent anything new for the genre but each of the films, that are directed by different filmmakers, each stand on their own whilst having acceptable ties with each other within the narrative.
Each of the two discs contains a whole host of interesting in-depth special features from documentaries to interviews to allow the viewer to get into the filmmaker's minds behind the movies. If you are a fan of the films, these are essential viewing.
Disc 1 - ONE MISSED CALL (2003)
- COMMENTARY BY TOM MES
- THE MAKING OF ONE MISSED CALL [57:06] - an hour-long archival documentary on the film's production.
- CAST & CREW INTERVIEWS [14:23]
- INTERVIEW WITH TAKASHI MIIKE [20:15]
- SCREENINGS [14:09] - clips from screenings of the film in 2003 in Tokyo.
- LIVE OR DIE [11:56] - raw footage from the TV special in the film, presented from two different camera angles.
- A DAY WITH THE MIZUNUMA FAMILY [2:45] - the hidden camera footage from the Mizunuma house.
- ALTERNATIVE ENDING [3:44] - an alternative ending to that of the theatrical cut presented on the disc.
- THEATRICAL TRAILER [1:21]
- TEASER TRAILERS [0:51]
- TV SPORTS [2:15]
- THE MAKING OF ONE MISSED CALL 2 [32:46]
- GOMU [3:51] - a short film tie-in for One Missed Call 2 by the film's director, Renpei Tsukamoto.
- ONE MISSED CALL 2 DELETED SCENES [10:10]
- ONE MISSED CALL 2 MUSIC VIDEO [4:46]
- ONE MISSED CALL 2 THEATRICAL TRAILER [1:38]
- ONE MISSED CALL 2 TEASER TRAILERS [1:37]
- ONE MISSED CALL 2 TV SPOTS [1:17]
- THE MAKING OF ONE MISSED CALL: FINAL [51:55] - an hour-long archival documentary on the film's production.
- MAKI AND MEISA [15:34] - an archival behind-the-scenes featurette on One Missed Call: Final with actresses Maki Horikita and Meisa Kuroki.
- BEHIND THE SCENES WITH KEUN-SUK JANG [11:45] - an archival featurette with One Missed Call: Final's South Korean star.
- THE LOVE STORY [12:06] - a short film tie-in for One Missed Call: Final.
- CANDID MIMIKO [15:02] - an archival location tour with the series' iconic villain.
- ONE MISSED CALL: FINAL THEATRICAL TRAILER [1:49]