DVD Release Date:  April 22, 2008
Theatrical Release Date:  January 4, 2008
Rating:  PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and terror, frightening images, some sexual material and thematic elements)
Genre:  Suspense, Horror, Remake
Running Time:  87 minutes
Director:  Eric Valette
Actors:  Shannyn Sossamon, Edward Burns, Ana Claudia Talancon, Ray Wise, Azura Skye, Johnny Lewis, Jason Beghe, Margaret Cho

Pity the poor cell phone. Once a luxury item, cell phones have become ubiquitous communications tools. But for every person who finds them essential, there’s someone else who finds them an annoyance. Can we go out to eat, take the subway, or walk down the street just once without having to listen to one side of someone else’s private conversation? Do people have to light up those screens in a darkened theater—thereby distracting everyone around them—just to see who’s texting?

Minor annoyances aside, cell phones have been blamed for traffic deaths and have been suspected as a source of brain cancer. One Missed Call takes the mortal consequences of cell-phone use to a new extreme, suggesting that the dead can use cell-phone technology to transmit messages and warnings to the living. But this stale new film—a remake of a Japanese film from 2004—is as innovative as a rotary-dial handset from the 1970s.

The film opens with a woman being pulled into a pond by something—someone—below the surface. Leanne (Azura Skye), a friend of the deceased woman, receives a posthumous message from the dead friend, with a recording of Leanne’s voice at the moment of her own death—time-stamped for the very near future.

Mutual friend Beth (Shannyn Sossamon) is unable to prevent Leanne’s demise, and when another friend (Johnny Lewis) dies after receiving an ominous cell-phone message, Beth tries to convince the authorities of a supernatural connection. It seems that no matter how much effort is spent in trying to destroy the cell phones, the calls keep coming. (Presumably, if we still lived in a landline age, the events in the story wouldn’t be possible.)

Her efforts come to no avail until Detective Jack Andrews (Edward Burns) buys into her premise. Together, they trace the chain of causation back to a hospital fire and a traumatized young patient, but not before more friends meet their Maker. One (Ana Claudia Talancon) even volunteers herself—and her cell phone—for an exorcism on live TV, during which a participant offers a bizarre explanation for how the dead can tap into modern technology.

For this reviewer, the drama in the theater was much more interesting than the story unfolding on screen. I saw One Missed Call on opening night in a theater filled with teenagers (my presence raised the median age of the audience by several years). If the Friday-night audience is indicative of today’s youth, the idea of missing a cell-phone call already is a crusty relic. No one in the audience ever misses a call. They flip their phones open in the darkness and respond right away, either by voice or by text. Friends unable to find seats together communicate by sending text messages, and they change seats with regularity (this happened in my row several times during the movie).

For those accustomed to a different standard of behavior in public places, the horror at One Missed Call isn’t up on the screen. It’s in the audience.


Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@earthlink.net.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language:  Lord’s name taken in vain; many profanities.
  • Sex/Nudity:  None shown, but brief discussion of sex and phone sex; a male character justifies multiple sex partners by saying, “I am a man. I have needs.”
  • Violence:  Hallucinations of monstrous faces and bodies; sudden death by drowning, impalement, falling in front of a train; a stabbing; a mother gives cigarette burns to her daughter; a young girl is cut; a fatal asthma attack.
  • Smoking/Drinking/Drugs:  Some smoking; a party scene.