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

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

one missed call trilogy review
Concluding part of Mike's look at the cult J-horror trilogy.

Review by Mike Vaughn

one missed call bluray

One Missed Call 2 (2005)

Directed by: Renpei Tsukamoto

Starring: Rie Mimura, Hisashi Yoshizawa, Renji Ishibashi

one missed call 2

As far as horror films go, Takashi Miike's 2003 One Missed Call was a flawed but nonetheless effective horror film which meditated on traditional J-horror folklore blended with tech-phobia. It somehow worked thanks to Miike, who slyly injected satire and dark humour into a dark and almost unrelentingly oppressive atmosphere. Sadly, Miike had nothing to do with either of the two sequels to his largely underrated chiller, with new comer Renpei Tsukamoto taking over as director.

One Missed Call 2 is really baffling because outside of there being no need for a follow up, it totally downplays all the things that made the first film so brilliant. This time around you don’t get the same kind of mood, which was so bleak it was almost suffocating. At this point Tsukamoto had only made one other feature, and his inexperience shows. I don’t think this is badly directed per se, just that its story elements, pacing and overall plot structure leave a lot to be desired. For example, the big reveal comes seemingly way too early, making the rest of the film feel unpolished and haphazardly constructed.

Maybe worst of all though is how unoriginal it is on all fronts. As I said in my review for the first One Missed Call, those critics who labelled it as derivative of the J-horror landscape failed to see its self-aware meta-commentary on the genre. It’s the biggest thing that makes the first film interesting.

Having said that, One Missed Call 2 outright feels like a lacklustre remake of both Ringu and Ju-On: The Grudge. One central plot element involves a girl being thrown down a pit, not unlike the girl in Ringu, (at one point she comes up out of a pit/well, much like in both the original and remake) and even a variant on the ‘Seven days’ element of Ringu crops up in this. It's really shameless in its attempt to not only capitalise on other J-horrors but also completely misses the point of the first film. I also didn’t love how it had to shoehorn a connection to the first film instead of allowing it to have its own identity. And here is where I think the film suffers, as it has no original or interesting voice of its own.

To Tsukamoto's credit, this film does have some creepy moments and a few nice set-pieces. Probably more than its predecessor, this sequel relies on a mystery which starts out engaging but quickly peeks too earlier. While not nearly as bad as I was expecting, this film truly does not reach the same terror-filled and grotesque heights and worst of all, just simply has nothing new to say.

Like the first film, Arrow does a great job at restoring this film. The night scenes benefit the most from this HD transfer and small details are highlighted nicely. Skin tones look natural and the colours have a well-balanced tone. Similarly, the sound and sound design is well crafted with a healthy 2.0 Mono track. Extras include: 'The Making of One Missed Call 2', Gomu (a short tie-in film),  Deleted Scenes, Music Video, and a series of trailers. It’s a really nice package.

[ READ MORE: Mike’s Strange Cinema Cavalcade - The One Missed Call Trilogy (Part One) ]

One Missed Call 3 AKA One Missed Call: Final (2006)

Directed by: Manabu Asô

Starring: Maki Horikita, Meisa Kuroki, Keun-Suk Jang

one missed call 3

Now we get to the third and final film in the One Missed Call trilogy. Asuka is brutally bullied by her classmates and seeks her revenge during a class field trip. She does this by sending them a death curse via cell phones the school hands out. The catch is, this time around they can forward it to somebody they want to die instead. Goriness ensues as the nasty bullies are picked off one-by-one.

Director Manabu Asô makes the best of what he had to work with, helming the third film in an already suspect trilogy. Honestly, I wont lie, my expectations were fairly low, having seen how far the second entry fell, which didn’t bode well for the third. To Asô's credit, the film is incredibly well made as far as directing goes and it's clear that he had experience on other features.

Overall, this movie isn’t actually that bad. I liked the addition of the forwarded messages, which sets up some interesting aspects to the film and also rises the stakes for its characters. And, who doesn’t like a good picked on kid getting their revenge movie? Asô's attempts at giving the movie a strong emotional core, which kind of works.

Having said that, the film definitely has a host of issues. Sadly, this movie is far removed from the original lore, which Part 2 at least tried to retain, even on some small level. This time around the film feels more like gore for the sake of gore and its characters are pretty forgettable. There is no real mystery or twists as the film is pretty up front with what it's all about. Worst of all, Final doesn’t really have any stand out creepy moments, which even the sequel managed to archive. This feels like the kind of movie that, while decently constructed, doesn’t have the same love and care as the first and to a degree, the second. It could have used an edit (much like all three) and all three films run almost the exact run time of 104 minutes in length. One Missed Call: Final plays out more like a shoddy remake of the first film with amped up gore right out of a Final Destination movie. While it has some promising elements, it just doesn’t come together that well.

Extras: 'The Making of One Missed Call: Final', two vintage behind the scenes featurettes, The Love Story - a tie in short film, Location tour and trailers.

Overall/Final Thoughts: Each film has at least something interesting even though Part One is the only film that was effective in telling a scary, compelling story. The series as a whole is fun if you are willing to lower your expectations and see the sequels as bottle films rather than a part of the same universe as Takashi’s original chiller. It's disappointing that the sequels didn’t expand on the mythos, which would have made for a much more coherent trilogy. Arrow Video does a great job at restoring these films and provides a wealth of features to go along with them. If you are a J-horror fan, this set is a must own.

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.