Takashi Miike's One Missed Call didn't break any new ground compared to other, better recent Japanese ghost stories. It was pretty derivative of both Ju-On: The Grudge and The Ring, both of which were more interesting and more original films. Conceptual issues aside, however, Miike infused the film with just enough oddball moments and legitimately suspenseful scenes that it was a worthy entry in the sub genre, even if the idea of 'death by haunted cell phone' is kind of silly in and of itself. Evidently, the film did well enough that Toho/Kadokawa decided to option a sequel, and thus, we have One Missed Call 2 though this time out Miike is nowhere to be seen and the film is directed by one Renpei Tsukamoto.
Kyoko (Japanese televisions starlet, Mimura) is a teenage girl with a problem far different than those that plague others in her age range. It seems that most of her friends are dropping dead after receiving a mysterious cell phone call. Kyoko hooks up with Journo Takako (Asaka Seto) who convinces her that the deaths are being caused by the angry spirit of a dead woman named Mimoko – he knows this as his sister was killed off by the very same spirit not too long ago. Journo talks Kyoko into heading off to a distant Taiwanese coal-mining village to try and piece together Mimoko's past. It seems that her father used to live in the area and the hope to be able to figure out just what it is that Mimoko needs in order to make her stop offing their friends through their phones.
This film almost feels like two stories combined into one film. The beginning of the movie focuses on the way that the spirit acts out through the phones and the second part focuses on solving the mystery and laying the vengeful ghost to rest without really resolving some of the themes from the first half. In essence, what happens with this transition is that the film discards what makes it unique (the cell phone idea) and turns itself over to the clichés that the genre is known for (angry ghosts needed to be put to rest a la Ring). How does it all play out in the end? Well, despite some nice atmosphere and a few creepy spots and a jump scare or two, One Missed Call 2 feels like a rushed sequel made to cash in on the success of the first film. No surprise there, really and the fact that it is more or less a retread of its predecessor mish-mashed with a few other more popular films isn't really a shocker, but it is a bit of a disappointment as there was some potential here to make a better movie out of the idea had the storyline tied up a few of the obviously loose ends.
That being said, Tsukamoto's direction is good. The movie is paced well and after a slow opening ten minutes or so moves along at a good pace. It doesn't feel padded or slowed down but flows quite naturally giving us almost as much information we need to stay on top of things. Performances are neither remarkable in their quality or their horridness – they're simply there and they're quite average and don't stand out but they are sufficient enough to get the job done. It's just a shame that the nastiness of the first film was watered down for this 'by the numbers' sequel – the filmmaker's had a chance to break some new ground and focus on something different and instead opted to rely on commercially viable clichés. It's an entertaining enough movie, but it's all going to seem very familiar to anyone seasoned in the horror films that Japan has been pumping out in the last five to ten years.
One Missed Call 2 gets a very nice 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on this DVD. Black levels stay very strong and very deep throughout and there are no problems with mpeg compression artifacts at all, through there is some very mild line shimmering noticeable in a few spots and one or two scenes look a little on the soft side. Print damage isn't ever an issue, though there are a few instances of mild film grain present. Overall we have a nice, clean picture to look at on this release with plenty of detail present in both the foreground and the background of the picture. In some spots it looks like the colors are a bit muted, but I'm chancing to guess that this is a stylistic choice on the part of the director and/or cinematographer and not a flaw with the disc or the transfer as parts of the first film had this look to them as well, as have a few other recent Japanese ghost/horror films. This transfer looks pretty much identical to the Region 3 release.
This DVD comes with four audio mixes: two in the film's native Japanese language – Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, and also dubbed into English in both Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. The Japanese language Dolby Digital mix sounds very, very and there are plenty of instances the track of very distinct channel separation that adds to the atmosphere and mood. This is mostly noticeable during some of the more suspenseful moments in the film and during some of the quieter spots if you listen closely you'll pick up on some nice ambient and background noises filling in the soundscape. Dialogue is crisp and clean and clear and it all comes through very nicely without any problems at all. Optional subtitles are provided in English and are done fairly well -there weren't any noticeable typographical errors. The DTS-ES 6.1 track that was on the two disc Hong Kong release that came out in Region 3 in 2005 has not been included on this set. The English dubs provided are fine in terms of quality and clarity but they don't suit the movie as well as the original language tracks do.
With four audio tracks on the first disc it shouldn't come as a shock to find that the supplements are slim – included are a teaser trailer, a theatrical trailer, and promo spots for other Tokyo Shock DVD releases.
One the second disc, a bonus short film called Gomu. This quickie runs three minutes and forty two seconds and it tells the story of a cop who gets 'the phone call' that has been haunting people for two films know. He finds out how he's going to die, but it doesn't play out as planned and instead it goes for a really off the wall ending. It's a fun little send up, presented here in non-anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen, in Japanese with optional English subtitles.
Also on this disc is a making of documentary presented in Japanese with optional English subtitles. This piece contains some nice behind the scenes footage and few interviews with the cast and crew members, all of whom talk about how wonderful it was to work on the project and what they liked about the experience. The documentary runs just under thirty-three minutes in length and judging by the Japanese text on the screen throughout it's probably a safe guess to assume that this was originally shot for Japanese television. While the interviews don't provide much insight into anything specific, the behind the scenes footage is interesting enough to make this worth a look..
Rounding out the extra features is a handful of television promo spots for the film, and three deleted scenes (none of which add much to the film but which come with an introduction from the director who explains why they weren't used – three minutes and twenty four seconds worth of material here in total). The cast and crew interviews advertised on the back of the packaging (noted separately from the documentary) are not found on this release for some reason.
One Missed Call 2 is a very mediocre film. It's not terrible – performances are fine, the story makes some sense, and there is some atmosphere – but there's nothing really memorable about it and it's nothing we haven't seen done better many times over by this point. The Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock DVD looks and sounds pretty good and unlike the Hong Kong release, and while the extra features included here probably didn't warrant a second disc, they are worth checking out if you enjoyed the film. There are certainly worse ways to kill an hour and a half but there sure are better ways too, making this one worthy of a rental on a gloomy, rainy day.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.