IF ONLY THIS MOVIE COULD CALL ITSELF
by Kevin Bowen
published January 15, 2008
One Missed Call
now playing nationwide
For finding out that she has just one day to live, Beth Raymond seems to be taking it all rather well.
What would you do if that sudden revelation were thrust upon you, by a cell phone no less? No climbing
Machu Picchu? No jetting off to Paris for filet mignon? Perhaps she’s too young, or too pretty, or too female to have hidden a bucket list in
the living room drawer. Or perhaps, as in other schlock horror movies not unlike this one, she’s too involved in the business of becoming a
corpse. And so Beth (Shannyn Sossamon) slithers into a dank duct, flashlight in hand, marching to the plot like a dutiful
One Missed Call is part psychological
thriller and part supernatural Nancy Drew story. It’s not the single most wretched quiver of stabbed-through-the-heart horror clichés you’ll
ever sit through. But it’s far from the best, either.
Like some horrible digital-age chain letter that takes the part about bad luck too seriously, her friends are being killed by a
chain of messages left on their cell phones. Each message comes in their own voice, always from the last dead duck’s cell phone, always at
the time of the recipient’s death. Not that this chain seems like much of a loss. You don’t suspect that any character has any human
relationships outside of the people onscreen. With some of the chilly acting, you also wonder if they’re about to hit room temperature or
if they’re already there.
The difficulty for horror films is that they act as their own self-parody. Even filmmakers have come to accept this. The cinematic
language has rotted to the point where you can’t read a film’s intentions clearly. Is your spine supposed to tingle or your lips to laugh?
There’s far too much of this – too many confusing signals between the screen and the audience. But at least this one garners some sort
of response – a jump here, a chill there – which I cannot deny.
kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com