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January 6, 2008 | Comments ()


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Long Live Dumbassery

One Missed Call / Dustin Rowles

Film Reviews | January 6, 2008 | Comments ()


Man a-fucking-live. I am in awe of Hollywood today. I am marveling at the sheer levels of motherfuckery that it took to greenlight One Missed Call. The amount of numskullery it must have taken just blows my goddamn mind. To call One Missed Call boneheaded would be a huge insult to mineralized osseous tissue; starving dogs would steer clear of this stripped pork chop. And yet … and yet, some guy (and you know it was a man, because there ain’t no woman dumb enough) not only wrote this movie, but another man (let’s call him Timothy Bourne) actually said: “Let’s start production on this soon — oh wait, you say it’s based on a Japanese horror flick? Let’s get this off the ground A-SAP before all those suckers out in Missouri realize that Japanese horror movies can actually be dumber than American ones.” Someone, somewhere in some brightly lit studio office was slurping caffeine and munching on a shitty L.A. bagel and got excited about One Missed Call. Actually, excited.

Oh, but before you conclude I’m being unnecessarily harsh on the quarterwits at Warner Brothers, you simply must hear the premise behind One Missed Call. Get some of this: A series of people die because a dead person holding onto a cell phone when he/she dies sends its evil aura through a number of cell phone calls and kills the victims in a bland, PG-13-like fashion.

Let that sink in. Roll it around on your tongue a little. Digest it. And if you think that some French director (Eric Valette) with little command of the English language (unfounded speculation) could extract some evil magic out of that premise, you’d be sadly mistaken my friend. Because, it gets worse: The dead person with the bad mojo loves hard candy! So, after each of these victims dies, he or she spits out a shiny red candy. Oh, and there’s more: Each person receives a voice mail from the future from him or herself at the time of his or her death uttering his or her final words.

So, you’d think that, if you knew exactly when you were going to die (down to the minute) and exactly what you were going to say right before you died, you might trap yourself in a padded room with a little duct tape on your mouth at the appointed time, right? Or at least, refrain from saying exactly what you said in that voice mail, right? No nonono no! Of course not: That would necessitate a modicum of common sense, and if there’s one thing we can count on when it comes to atrocious PG-13 horror flicks, it’s that no one possesses the least bit of common sense. And if they did, where would we be? We’d be forced to watch horror movies that didn’t contain lapses in logic that not even the General Lee could bound, that’s where. And nobody wants that.

So, One Missed Call opens with a hospital fire, which will make absolutely no sense to you until … well, it won’t ever really make a lot of sense. Then, it flashes to a young, attractive African American woman talking on her cell phone when she gets a voice mail. A few seconds later, a hand shoots out of the pond in her backyard and pulls her in; right after that, the hand returns and pulls the house cat in, as well. Yeah.

Cut to a few days later when a friend of the young, attractive African-American girl, returning from her funeral, gets a voice mail dated two days hence, from herself, presaging her death. The soon-to-be-dead girl is friends with Beth (Shannon Sossamon), who gets trapped in this circle of cell phone hell, as a number of her friends on speed dial succumb to unsavory deaths up and until Beth gets her own phone call. (Oh, and if you’re wondering: Destroying the cell phones and/or taking out their batteries seems to have no effect; bad mojo doesn’t need battery power, which seems like the sort of thing that some enterprising exec at Verizon might want to try to harness: “No batteries required! Our cell phones run on evil spirits!”)

With a couple of days before her demise meets her, she partners with a local cop, Jack (Ed “Fall Hard” Burns), whose own sister died with a hard candy in her mouth. After discovering that, indeed, the deaths are connected, they begin investigating the voice mails backward, hoping that it will lead them back to the original dead person with the bad mojo so that they can destroy its cell phone and end all these shenanigans before somebody else gets hurt. So, they light up a couple of doobies, grab some Scooby snacks, and jump in the Mystery Van to begin the investigation.

I don’t really know what else to say about One Missed Call except that, for those of you with a hard-on for unexpected twists, you might want to be careful what you wish for. I’m all for unpredictability, to a certain extent, but there’s no need to sacrifice logic and coherence for the sake of unpredictability. But, if there is one thing that One Missed Callis good for, it’s reminding is that — after six weeks of award season offerings (and Alvin and the Chipmunks) — it’s good to know that the idiocy and ineptitude in Hollywood that makes writing reviews for this site such a joy hasn’t scampered away. Long live dumbassery!

Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives with his wife and son in Ithaca, New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.







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