One Missed Call (Chakushin ari, Japan, 2003)

Mobile phones are bad for you

Mobile phones are bad for you

Genres are, by their nature, formulaic however new examples of the genre need to be different otherwise audiences, having seen it all before, will ‘turn off’. One Missed Call is a Ringu rip-off, instead of video tapes and a week to live, the hapless victims receive a mobile phone call – uncannily from themselves – from a day or two in the future were they get to hear their last words. Then someone else in that person’s ‘contacts’ receives a call.

There is very little difference from Ringu, and other examples of J-horror: the emphasis on school girls; the useless cops; the slightly older man who tries to help; disturbing young children; long hair witches-ghosts; brilliant set pieces… And that’s why One Last Call is worth watching, for despite it’s overlong near-two hour length, there are many genuinely chilling moments. J-horror directors relish placing something uncanny in the mise en scene without drawing attention to it. So a routine search of an abandoned flat suddenly becomes creepy as you think, ‘Are those fingers sticking out of that cupboard on the wall?’ You look ‘closer’ to realise the bloody witch is in there.

Directed by the incredibly prolific Takeshi Miike (80 films in under 20 years), One Last Call is a worthy entrant to the J-horror cycle. Wonderfully composed shots – how the hell does he do that when directing four films a year?! – and a genuinely scary finale offers a satisfyingly cold-sweaty experience.