Monday, January 14, 2008

Definitely miss this 'Call'

* out ****

"One Missed Call" is the first film of 2008, but starts the year off with the wrong number.

Shannyn Sossamon ("Dirt," "Moonlight") gives an uninspiring performance as the fearless heroine, Beth Raymond, in a role that we've seen in horror films time after time.

The plot is simple: Beth's friends are all dying around her in tragic accidents after receiving a cell phone call. When her friends hear their missed call's voicemail, it is the sound of their death. The call is listed two days later at the exact time of their death sent from the cell phone of a person that died before them.

In the 48-hour doomsday waiting period, Beth's friends tell her how they start hallucinating, seeing insects crawling about and decomposed faces as a reminder of their end of days. When found dead they all have a red hard candy found in their mouths.

The cops don't believe Beth's claims, since after the deaths the messages are erased.

Police officer Jack Andrews (Edward Burns), our second hero, assists Beth after his own sister becomes a victim of the cursed call.

When Beth gets her own fatal call, however, she and Jack spelunk through eerie buildings and investigate through newspaper and police archives to find the origin of the voicemails and a way to save Beth before anyone else gets the killer call.

"One Missed Call" is dull and boring, failing to provide at least one genuine moment of fear. It also follows the patterns of similar themed films such as fellow Japanese remakes "Pulse" and "Dark Water" (both not much better). "Call" also raises many questions. Why listen to the message if you know the outcome? This question never dawns upon Beth and her friends. Instead the movie continues with their destiny, which leaves the characters and audience not very surprised with what happens next.

Since they can't cancel their phone plan (through Boost Mobile, the only company that lent its name and product), they do destroy their phones, but this doesn't seem to stop the vengeful spirit.

Giving the best performance of the film is the usually reliable Burns, who sleepwalks through his part as Jack.

This is the first American film for French director Eric Valette, whose directing style is either formulaic or got lost in translation with the common close shot angles for chilling jump scenes that got more of a laugh than a yelp. Screenwriter Andrew Klavan ("Don't Say a Word") has some good ideas but seems to have forgotten the elements of common sense and an ending.

The best moment of the film happens during the first few minutes when victim number one meets her fate by the ghoul, but seconds later the ghost reappears and takes the life of her cat.

This is when the cracks start to show -- did the cat also receive a voicemail?

With failed attempts for the film trying to explain itself, especially the connection between the characters and the curse, "One Missed Call" is definitely one to hang up on.

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