One Missed Call 2 Review
With the success of films like The Grudge and The Ring, Japanese horror is becoming more and more popular which has led to the release of more obscure titles and sequels. Chakushin Ari 2 or One Missed Call 2 is the sequel to Takashi Miike’s 2003 outing Chakushin Ari which takes some of the best aspects of The Ring and Phone and weaves them into a fascinating movie.
Set a year after the original, One Missed Call 2 introduces us to Kyoko and her friend Madoka. Both women are teaching assistants at a kindergarten in the middle of Tokyo and when the pair aren't working, they seem to spend a lot of time in a Chinese restaurant where Kyoko’s boyfriend, Naoto, works. It is here that Kyoko first encounters the cursed ringtone.
The curse essentially goes like this; your phone rings with a strange, chilling tone. When the phone is answered it is revealed that the call (which can also be a video message) comes from future and the moment of the recipient’s violent demise, which can be anything from five minutes to three days away. The curse then works its way though the internal phonebook and infects others in the same manner.
Okay, so it’s not the most inventive method of cursing some unfortunate soul and I’m sure many horror fans saw it coming. After all, we’ve seen this type of curse infect video tapes, apartments and houses, why not a mobile phone? Next year we could even see haunted DVDs, email, PSPs or iPods! Yet regardless of the method of infection, the curses' purpetrator remains the stereotypical, vengeful female spirit made so popular by other Japanese horror movies.
Both Kyoko and her beloved Naoto are familiar with the curse - in Tokyo it has the status of an urban legend and achieved some fame as the last victim died on live TV at the climax of the original film. Various flashbacks are used to bring first-time viewers up-to-speed in a way that does not distract from One Missed Call 2’s story.
One of the strongest scenes in the film also plays a part in progressing the story; Kyoko and Naoto are wandering through Tokyo when Kyoko becomes aware of how each of the hundred plus people in the crowd has a mobile phone – each one could be used to propagate the curse. Gradually, she becomes aware of one girl having a conversation with a friend, explaining an urban legend where a girl appears by your bed at 2:22am with her lips sewn together, somehow she mumbles ‘asobo’ – the film’s tagline which means ‘let’s play’ in Japanese – and if you refuse she will stitch your lips together. Nice.
Also on the trail of the curse is a psychic journalist named Takako, who has some experience with this particular curse, having lost her twin sister to it many years before. Renji Ishibashi is one of the only characters to return from the original with a cameo as Detective Motomiya, one of the police officers who investigated the original murders and - for a change - accepts the curse is real and deadly, so no time is lost with the protagonists trying desperately to convince authority figures of the curse's validity.
As the curse begins to cull those close to Kyoko and Naoto the main characters are slowly drawn together. But this tale is not limited to Tokyo and Takako's investigations lead her to research Mimiko's history - the girl believed to be the origin of the curse from the previous film. Takako discovers that Mimiko was not the progenitor, but merely one of the many victims, and that the curse's origins actually lie with her father’s village in Taiwan. This leads the journalist to visit her ex-husband, who has also been trying to trace the curse’s history but in doing so has become infected. Yet once the true origins of the curse are discovered, Kyoko, Takako and Naoto have to race against time – in true horror movie fashion – to find the resting place of the girl who started it all and thus end the curse.
The video quality is clear and bright while colours are well defined and vivid. The DVD is also presented in 16:9 anamorphic which adds to the experience. The sound is also crisp and clear, even in the sections where Takako and other minor characters speak Chinese.
The animated menus are nice, if not a little basic and are given that extra creepy edge by the inclusion of the cursed ringtone. Options are displayed on a mobile phone screen and clips from the movie itself are displaced in the pupil of an eye which dominates the rest of the menu.
My only complaint – and it’s a minor one at that, is with the subtitles. Being a Region 3 release (which covers Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea), the primary subtitles are in Chinese (both Simplified and Traditional) with the English subs as a optional extra. Aside from one or two lapses in grammar and a couple of occasions where a sentence is left unsubbed, the English subtitles are good quality, with no visible errors in punctuation or spelling often seen in bootlegged DVDs.
Unfortunately, there are absolutely no extras on this disc.
Despite having not seen the original (something I intend to remedy within the week), knowledge of the original film is not necessary to enjoy One Missed Call 2 but should make the plot easier to follow.
The story itself is compelling but there are several subplots, such as the one concerning the disappearance and murder of Takako’s sister Mariko, which seems to have no real purpose other than to confuse the viewer. Some ends are left untied, such as the reasons why Li Li – the girl who began the phone curse – was gifted with the power to kill in a similar way to everybody’s favourite vengeful victim, Sadako Yamamura. Like her spiritual predecessor, is it easy to pity the girl and her reasons for vengeance but is interesting to see how far the curse has spread purely because it was left unchecked, something that was absent from The Ring.
The ending itself is strange, almost Sixth Sense-like albeit not as obvious. Yet the acting is excellent, Mimura shows real emotion rather than the mindless screaming done by many Japanese actresses. Also, rather than the victims just dying, One Missed Call 2 offers a self-sacrifice get out clause; when the phone rings again at the time of death – it is answering that phone call that leads to death and whoever picks up the phone becomes the victim.
It is also interesting to see a film with a story that transcends countries, normally Japanese horror stays in Japan, but it is the inclusion of Taiwan that gives the whole story and the curse itself a larger, more horrifying feel. It is not simply a Japanese problem but one that seemingly encompasses Asia as a whole.
Overall, One Missed Call 2 is an entertaining film and the excellent quality of the Region 3 DVD enhances the experience. While many fans of Asian horror may find the film is simply rehash of various other concepts culled from classics like Ring or Phone, it is still entertaining and, in my opinion, a worth addition to the annals of horror.