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MOVIE REVIEW

You can afford to miss this 'Call'

Plagued by weak characters and plot, 'One Missed Call' doesn't ring any bells.

January 05, 2008|Scott Schueller | Chicago Tribune

American remakes of Japanese horror-thrillers have been hit-or-miss. For every box-office smash such as "The Ring" ($129 million in 2002), there's an equally unsuccessful "Pulse" ($20 million in 2006). "One Missed Call" re-engineers 2003's "Chakushin Ari" and follows the Far Eastern genre's tradition of death delivered through evolving technology (videocassettes, the Internet and cellphones). Try as it may to capture the original's success in Japan, "One Missed Call" ends up a remake better left unmade.

Shannyn Sossamon and Ed Burns try to find the supernatural cause behind people getting cellphone previews of the moment of their death. That the tipped-off victims treat this as only slightly more annoying than a call from a telemarketer doesn't help the film's momentum. The two investigate clues linking the victims by their phone books, leading down a path of loose affiliations and including a very confusing piece about the Sossamon character's childhood that has no relevance to the film.

The script appears to blatantly rip off plot devices and story elements from "The Ring," but screenwriter Andrew Klavan avoids plagiarism by tacking on an incomprehensible second ending where "Ring" would have left off. The script blends deaths from bad circumstances and unexplainable supernatural murders too casually: Is it the phone calls or a simple case of wrong place at the wrong time? Adding to the confusion is a glazed-over explanation of how the dead are communicating through the phone lines.

While director Eric Valette provides the occasional chill, the disturbing spooks aren't enough to make this boat float. Burns sleepwalks through "One Missed Call" totally devoid of charisma, and Sossamon muddles along, going through the motions.

"One Missed Call." MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, frightening images, some sexual material and thematic elements. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes. In wide release.

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