One Missed Call
January is traditionally regarded as the dumping ground for studios, and this "Americanized" version of the Japanese horror hit Chakushin ari does absolutely nothing to dispel that notion. Miss this Call and you're not missing much.
If ever there was a film to make one dislike cell phones, this is it. And if there was ever a film to inspire the end of American remakes of Japanese horror films, this is it, too. A group of people start receiving eerie phone calls from their future selves--calls that specify the exact time and date when they are to die. Before they do, however, they begin experiencing dire hallucinations of ghostly figures. College student Beth Raymond (Shannyn Sossamon), whose circle of friends is rapidly being depleted as a result of these phone calls, teams up with Jack Andrews (Edward Burns), absolutely the only homicide detective in the city who seems concerned that there's a series of fatal accidents occurring with rapid regularity. But, then again, his own sister was one of the first to die. Somehow, it all ties in to a tragic fire at a local hospital and, even further back than that, an incidence of child abuse that eventually had fatal consequences. This film is in no way prepared to deal with the abuse theme in any meaningful way, making this story angle more than a little uncomfortable. With time running out, Beth attempts to piece together the circumstances that has put her and her friends in jeopardy. The time can't run out soon enough.
The perennially underwhelming Sossamon gives another flatline performance here, and Burns--who seems awfully indiscriminate when it comes to choosing roles in the movies he doesn't write or direct--seems to merely be going through the motions. Azura Skye, Meagan Good and Johnny Lewis (recently seen in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem) are only briefly on hand as victims of the fatal phone calls, and Margaret Cho turns up as Burns' partner, who repeatedly pooh-poohs his worries even as the body count is rising. Some of these people ought to give their agents a call. Only Ray Wise, in a throwaway role as the host of a supernatural-themed tabloid talk-show, has any fun here--and his character could have easily been excised from the proceedings entirely.
Noted young French horror director Eric Valette has made the sort of English-language feature debut that will be very easy to improve on. Except for a few skewed camera angles, some false scares that are telegraphed well in advance, and random shots of giant centipedes (oooh--creepy!), this is an utterly uninspired endeavor. Even the low-angle shots of cell phones lose their menacing quality very quickly. Valette isn't alone in his culpability; screenwriter Andrew Klavan--who once wrote a smashing black comedy called A Shock to the System (which, unfortunately, nobody saw)--equals Valette with dialogue and situations that defy even simple logic. The characters say and do dumb things, so why should an audience care what happen to them? Indeed, you don't. Thanks to horror fans, this may make a quick New Year's buck at the box office but will soon be relegated, deservedly so, to video shelves, where it can gather the dust it richly deserves.
Hollywood.com rated this film 1/2 star.