The Movie Waffler Mike’s Strange Cinema Cavalcade - The ONE MISSED CALL Trilogy (Part One) | The Movie Waffler

Mike’s Strange Cinema Cavalcade - The ONE MISSED CALL Trilogy (Part One)

one missed call review
First of a two part look at Arrow Video's release of the One Missed Call trilogy.

Review by Mike Vaughn

one missed call trilogy bluray

Part One: Review of Disc 1

Takashi Miike is one of the most prolific filmmakers with over 100 film and television directing credits under his belt, and he shows no signs of slowly down. He has worked in many different genres but has blazed a trail within the horror genre. Films like 1999’s Audition have cemented him among the finest directors working within the genre. J-horror had taken off in the early ‘00s and Miike put his unique stamp on the genre by blending tech-terror and traditional Japanese folk horror. The result is the unsettling One Missed Call (2003). Arrow Video has rolled out all three films in the series onto blu-ray for the first time in the west. It's been awhile since I’ve seen all three films and it seemed like a fitting time to dive back in.

One Missed Call (2003)

Directed by: Takashi Miike

Starring: Ko Shibasaki, Shin'ichi Tsutsumi, Kazue Fukiishi

The early 2000s was a, shall we say, rocky time for American horror. Aside from a few gems here and there it was mostly international fare that was rocking the genre. Movies like Battle Royale (2000), The Devil's Backbone (2001), Dog Soldiers (2002) as well as the wave of J-horror films like Ringu (1998),  Ju-On (2002) and of course One Missed Call (2003).

The story is centred around a mysterious voice-mail that people receive from an unknown caller. The message the victim receives seems to predict their gruesome death. What lies at the heart of the mystery is just as dark and twisted as the curse itself.

one missed call review

Critics at the time were not too kind to One Missed Call and accused Miike's film of being too similar to other J-horror films of the era. While yes, I agree they are similar, I think critics failed to see this film as both a serious horror and a satire of the J-horror landscape.

Right from the very first scene the film's grim and foreboding tone brilliantly establishes what the audience is in store for. It's creepy and there is a thick sense of hopelessness that seems unavoidable. Miike weaves a masterpiece of horror filled with tension and eerie set-pieces, along with a haunting sound design. The end result is an off kilter piece of horror that, despite treading in familiar ground, finds its own grisly voice.

[ READ MORE: New to DVD - First Love ]

One Missed Call works because like other J-horror movies, it's grounded in a certain reality yet always has one foot in the otherworldly. For example, when a television crew find one of the ill-fated girls, they persuade her to go on a live TV show; while the logic of the situation is sound, the entire ordeal feels very surreal. Here, supernatural things occur in a seemingly normal environment. The ill-fated people in Miike’s dark world don’t just die in typical fashion - they suffer horribly before they die, which makes for a more jarring experience overall.

one missed call review

Miike also explores a recurring theme in a lot of his films like Audition, Visitor Q and The Happiness of the Katakuris, which is the decay of the family and the disconnect between parent and child, and it fits this kind of movie extremely well.

My chief complaint is at nearly two hours, the film starts to feel bloated. It takes a while for the final payoff and things could have been scaled down a bit. The action starts to get a bit repetitive and some of the momentum the film creates suffers for it. There are also some plot holes, but nothing that detached from the story in my opinion. It’s a credit to Miike's brilliance that he could take already tired J-horror tropes and craft a suspenseful and creepy film.

[ READ MORE: Takashi Miike’s Top Five Yakuza Movies ]

Arrow Video is no stranger to J-horror and the films of Miike, having released Audition last year as well as the The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001) in 2015. One Missed Call looks great with a sharp clear new transfer using original negatives. Night scenes benefit greatly and small details really seem to pop. The sound is also great and the 2.0 Mono track utilises the film's wonderfully atmospheric sound design, not to mention the iconic ring tone.

one missed call review

Of course, this disc is filled with some great extras. Included is a commentary by Tom Mes, film historian and author of 'Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Mikke' (2003). Mes gives us his wealth of knowledge to put the film in context not just with the director's work but also culturally. It also features some nice archival material, such as an hour long documentary 'The Making of One Missed Call', Cast and Crew Interviews and an interview with the man himself, Miike. We also get footage from various screenings, which makes for a fun addition. Rounding out the features is 'Live or Die' which is comprised of raw footage from the TV special presented in the film that includes two different camera angles. Similarly, 'A Day with the Mizunama Family' presents the camera footage seen in the film. And finally, a nice Alternative Ending. A great film and an equally wonderful release.

I will soon be reviewing the second disc, which contains One Missed Call Parts 2 and 3.

Michael Vaughn is a rabid horror and cult fan who turned that love into a career. He is a writer, blogger and film historian and now author of 'The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema' which Shock Wave Podcast named their pick of the month, and Chris Alexander of Fangoria called “recommended reading.”

His other credits include Scream Magazine, Fangoria and websites like Films in Review and Bloody Flicks(UK). Please follow his Twitter @StrangeCinema65 and Instagram @gorehound_mike.