January 10, 2008

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One Missed Call (PG-13)
Cell phones attack! in the needlessly somber, occasionally unintentionally funny horror film One Missed Call.

Early in the movie, an attractive young 20something named Shelley (Meagan Good) is pulled by a ghostly white hand into her parents’ koi pond, followed, a beat later, by her cat. Why kill the cat, I wondered? It doesn’t have a cell phone.
Meow.

Soon thereafter we meet Beth (Shannyn Sossamon), who knows one of Shelley’s close friends. That friend and then another mutual friend receive mysterious phone calls that end with the sounds of their own screaming deaths. The calls are placed from the phone of the previously dead friend and are time-stamped a few days in the future. When that date and time arrives, the person who got the call dies in some strange fashion and then a new person is called.

As the phone tree of death comes closer and closer to Beth, she starts to both freak out and attempt to investigate the calls. She goes to the police but Detective Margaret Cho (a. why bother to learn the character’s name and b. Margaret Cho?) is having none of this “the phone killed my friend” business. Luckily for Beth, Detective Ed Burns (shessh, Ed Burns?) thinks a phone may have recently killed his sister. How does he know that death and the death of Beth’s friends are connected? They were all sucking tell-tale hard candies.

(Which, at first, I thought were marbles. But either way, it was funny when they came popping out of the dead person’s mouth.)

Naturally, there’s a ghost behind all these cellular shenanigans and we have to stumble through a burned-out hospital with Beth as she learns the secrets of the deathly hellos (which I didn’t care one bit about) to get to the money shot — when Sossamon is chased by a reanimated corpse.

Why is the corpse reanimated? What’s with the candy marbles rolling out of the mouths? Why kill the cat (is the ghost afraid it’s going to tell people about its owner’s demise)? Don’t look for answers in this movie.

Instead, look for the funny — like Ray Wise’s bit part as the host of a cable show about exorcisms (you may know him from such parts as The Devil on Reaper) or the fact that Ed Burns’ character is named Jack Andrews, just like Hippo’s tech columnist’s nickname. And, considering that the movie is all about gadgets gone wrong, is kind of fitting. D

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, frightening images, some sexual material and thematic elements. Directed by Eric Valette and written by Andrew Klavin (from a screenplay by Miwako Daira from a novel by Yasushi Akimoto), One Missed Call is an hour and 27 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Warner Bros.