Great horror movies must be happening somewhere else. That's the thinking that led to numerous American remakes of Japanese ghost stories over the past few years. Only the remakes of The Ring and The Grudge found audiences. Now, with the release of One Missed Call, J-horror just feels like yesterday's trend. One Missed Call remakes Takashi Miike's 2003 film as undistinguished college-age horror, except it tries to exploit some people's fear of answering the phone into a feature-length premise. Beth Raymond (Shannon Sossamyn) becomes concerned when her friends drop dead after hearing themselves die over the phone. This leads to a scene where a priest performs an exorcism on someone's cell. The movie's one subversive bit: Beth's evil phone plan won't cancel her service, forcing her to curbstomp her mobile. The concept of young people dealing with their impending mortality is a poor reassembling of Final Destination's ingenious premise.
That movie's own sequels couldn't think of anywhere to go but to replace emotion with jokey shock deaths. One Missed Call—even restaging a Final Destination scene where someone backs away from an outdoor cafe into unseen traffic—only adds dreary stoicism to the mix.
The reserved mannerisms displayed in the film do not translate to American youth. Sossamyn is the sort of mid-level star who can afford to choose more fun projects than this, the way Katherine Heigl appeared in Bride of Chucky and Under Siege 2 before blowing up in Grey's Anatomy and losing her appeal. Beth, like everyone in the film, is written without personality.
When she's teamed with a detective (Edward Burns), their different ages and experience should bring amusing interplay, but they have none. At one point, Burns examines a teddy bear and says, "It must be one of those nanny cams to keep an eye on the children." If Ratatouille were this literate, it could include the line, "It must be one of those frying pans to sautee vegetables."