Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #2, One Missed Call

I'm not a fan of horror movies.  In some cases, it's because I just can't take them.  Case in point, I've never been able to watch The Exorcist all the way through, even after reading the book.  In most cases, it's because horror movies tend to be pretty poorly made.  The makers think the shocks will make up for skimping elsewhere.  Case in point, Saw, through which I laughed and laughed and laughed because of the bad filmmaking.  I do like some horror movies and those tend to be the ones that are better made, but not too scary.  Sort of "horror lite."  The ultimates are, of course, John Carpenter's brilliant Halloween and the Spielberg-driven Poltergeist, but when it comes to more recent movies, I'm looking at The Sixth Sense, The Ring, and Final Destination.

The greatness of The Sixth Sense goes without saying; it's less a horror movie than a great movie that is based in the supernatural.  Final Destination is just fun.  The first one is well-made (the others are crappy, but hilarious) with the right amount of character development to make you actually care if something happens.  Also, the first twenty minutes or so are plain riveting.  The Ring is a touch scarier, but still has solid acting and an interesting plot.  I remember watching that and having my phone ring in the middle.  If my wife, calling me, knew any better she could have whispered, "Seven days," and I'd have run screaming out of the apartment. The Ring is based on a Japanese movie and its success meant that more American remakes of "J-Horror" films would be coming.  Hence, we have the 2008 remake of the 2004 Japanese film, One Missed Call.

Let's review.  Final Destination has elaborate, visually impressive death sequences and worthwhile characters.  The Ring has a creepy premise, good acting, and some decent scares.  One Missed Call is remarkable because it does its best to be Final Destination meets The Ring, yet it has not one of those things that either movie has.  There is no redeeming quality in One Missed Call and there are no scares.  It is so minimalist in what it brings to the cinematic table that its eighty-six minutes of run-time seem somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty-six minutes too long.  It is a movie that is neither scary nor funny with a weak premise, no character development, and a lazy ending.  In other words, it has all the charm of an eighty-six minute Saturday Night Live sketch.

There are a bunch of students at the psych ward of a medical school.  I think that's what they were supposed to be.  One by one, their phone rings with a weird tone and they never pick it up in time.  When they look at their phone, it says, "1 Missed Call," and has a date and time in the future.  When they listen to the message left, it has their voice right at the time of their death.  Then, at the appointed times, they say the same thing as on the message and either fall in front of a train or get impaled on a girder or get strangled to death by a demon (I think, that scene was confusing).  Ed Burns is the streetwise detective whose sister was the first victim of the phone calls and when our main character, one of the girls, tries to find out what's going on before she's killed, he helps her.  The cops tell her that nobody had any messages on their phones, but somehow Ed Burns has done research and figures out where the call to his sister was coming from.  They use it to track down the family that had a kid that died who is haunting the phones, blah blah blah, but it makes no sense because the kid had a cell phone that was too big for her being so young and how could Burns track down a cell phone to the foster home for the sister of the dead kid who owned the phone.

The plot makes no sense, but it's not helped by insulting dialogue delivered by actors who don't give a crap.  It's also not helped because we jump right into the phone calls and deaths and therefore don't know who any of the characters are and, therefore, really just don't care about anything.  Girl falls in front of train?  People die all over the world all the time, kid, so I can't work up the sympathy.  I can feel bad for Sonny Corleone when he's in the tollbooth because I know who he is.  You, guy who was in one scene and died in a ridiculous fashion that tried to be Final Destination but fell way short?  Meh.  The dialogue is so lame and the acting so bad that the entire movie feels like what I've been told the acting parts of porn are like by people who have seen those sorts of movies.

The sorts of movies I like to watch do not generally include spirits -- even those created by special effects that look like they were written in Basic -- or hauntings.  I'll take a comedy or a war movie or mob movie.  You can keep your possessed cell phones and your nanny cam teddy bears that are supposed to be creepy, but not nearly as creepy as a really creepy teddy bear.

Two left and they're both at home.  One I've been saving for pure enjoyment, the last Uwe Boll movie.  The other is the #1 worst movie of 2000-09, according to Rotten Tomatoes.  It's just a matter of days. 

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