Wednesday 31 December 2008

One Missed Call 2 (2005)

The original One Missed Call was a Takashi Miike movie, though it didn't feel like it for most of the film. It was made in 2003 though, so J-Horror had already become the in thing. Sure enough, it only took two years for a sequel to come along, with another year before the third. All three were directed by different people, which is never a good sign. Then there was a 2005 TV series based on the trilogy and a manga too. The US remake came out in 2008.

We start out with some basic ghost stuff, focused around Miss Kyoko Okudera, a daycare worker, who is talked into ditching her usual study session by her friend and co-worker in favour of going out for a meal at the restaurant her boyfriend Naoto works at. However this plunges her right into the middle of the cellphone chain of death. The owner, Mr Wang, receives a weird phone call from his daughter, which is even more weird given that it's his daughter's phone that he answers. Sure enough, it's a call from the future with an exact foretelling of his imminent demise, and sure enough the ringtone of death spreads among the circle of friends.

Quickly on the scene to investigate are a cop and a journalist who can't fail to see the parallels to the string of 'murders' in the first film, even if the ringtone of death hadn't made it totally obvious. They were centered around a young girl called Mimiko, a creepy little dead girl who was born the product of rape; and the journalist, Takako Nozoe, discovers a link to Taiwan through Mimiko's grandfather who moved there after being released from jail where he served time for killing the lunatic intruder who raped his daughter. By this time the circle of friends is diecreasing Madoka is dead and Kyoko would appear to have only a few days to live.

This is not exactly the greatest sequel in the world; in fact it's pretty poor even as horror sequels go. There are some agreeably freaky scenes, like the one with the briefcase under the bed, but generally the scare factor is down on the usual J-Horror movie. There's also a surprisingly low body count. The gimmick isn't new at all, of course, and the differences aren't enough to matter. Urban legends continually come out of nowhere because they have to, right? Really there's nothing new here at all and what's worse, there's no real attempt to make it all anything less than clumsy. Mimura, the actress who plays Kyoko doesn't get to do a heck of a lot either, though she does buck up about halfway through when she decides to go to Taiwan to find out what's really going on. Naturally she was picked for a reason.

This doesn't make it entirely unwatchable though, even though it keeps veering off in a new directions every five minutes and all these revelations mean that what seems like the whole film is told in explanation dialogue. There's no suspense here, just a vague interest in seeing where director Renpei Tsukamoto (no relation to Shinya that I can tell) takes it. Mostly I think I made it through only because Takako Nozoe is played by Yu Yoshizawa, who is something like the epitome of the professional modern Japanese woman, and I could sit through three hours of Yu Yoshizawa doing nothing but look at the camera. in comparison an hour and a half of her trying to find out just what the heck the film she's in is all about seems like child's play.

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