Saturday, July 11, 2009

In short: One Missed Call 2 (2005)

It looked as if Mimiko (Karen Oshima), everyone's favorite handy-cursing ghost had made her last death prophesying phone call in One Missed Call, until the people around Kyoko (Mimura), a kindergarten teacher and future child psychologist, suddenly begin to fall victim to her curse. Viewers of the first film will probably remember the drill: at first you get a call from your own cellphone, but three days in the future, the time comes to get rather rudely killed by a ghost.

Kyoko isn't too keen on dying, yet unsure how to evade the curse. She has the good luck to meet Takako Nozoe (Asaka Seto) who is a little obsessed with the handy curse case because it reminds her of the mysterious death of her sister years ago and more than willing to risk her own life to alleviate her feelings of guilt.

Takako's investigations lead to Taiwan and the discovery of an earlier string of killings there. It looks as if the ghost who is after Kyoko isn't the dear old Mimiko at all. Poor Mimiko was herself a victim of this original ghost, a little girl from a now depopulated mining village.

Together with Kyoko's boyfriend Naoto (Yu Yoshizawa), the two women travel to the old mine to somehow lift the curse before it is too late for them.

While Takashi Miike's original One Missed Call mixed some of the more samey elements of contemporary Japanese ghost horror (I'm never going to call it "J-Horror") with satiric wit and moments of creepy genius, this sequel is very much a genre film by the book.

It's all a little too much like something written by a committee while making marks on a checklist to be really exciting (or creepy, or disturbing), but I wouldn't call One Missed Call 2 a bad film. It's more a mediocre film rescued from being too boring by technical competence. Director Renpei Tsukamoto might not be more than a craftsman, but at least he's a skilled craftsman with the control over his work this implies, working with other skilled professionals to deliver a professional product.

This sort of filmmaking often strikes me as incredibly lazy and wasteful of talent, but One Missed Call 2 at least keeps the pedestrian and workmanlike watchable - and me away from the "eject" button on my remote control.

It is possible that my cautious positivity here is mostly based on the final ten minutes of the film, when the genre-necessary twist arrives with the beautiful nonsensicality of a force of nature, crushing the competent narration of everything that came before below the awesome power of what the fuck, but that's perfectly alright with me.


No comments: