Friday, February 25, 2011

Review: One Missed Call (2008)

Director: Eric Valette
Starring: Shannon Sossamon, Ed Burns

"That's not my ringtone."
-A Doomed Girl

Well folks, this is one of the big ones: One Missed Call has been named number 2 on Rotten Tomatoes’ Worst Movies of All Time list, and I’ve been putting this review off for too long. Right from the get go, I see the first thing wrong with this horror film about people receiving killer missed calls on their cells – nobody would ever call these people. They’re far too bland and characterless to ever receive any willing phone calls. But then, I guess that’s why they’re getting killed off. Let’s dive right into One Missed Call.

Our film begins with a fire burning down a building – a fitting metaphor for the movie in general, no doubt. We’re not really given any information on why this is important, but the movie does have more important scenes to show us like a random black girl looking into her super-rich-person outdoor pond in the backyard and getting pulled under by a hand. The hand also then pulls her cat underwater, too.

Hey! You can kill all the one dimensional expendable characters you want, BUT YOU LEAVE THE CATS ALONE! We’ll have your asses!


Then we cut to a party at this girl Beth’s house. She’s talking to a guy who claims to be psychic, as he apparently knows that she’s thinking about him. I hope he puts those talents to good use. Then the girl from Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 7 comes over. You remember the one who was in that one episode saying that she knew she was going to die inexplicably? Yeah. She’s now in another movie about pretty much the same thing. She tells Beth that she just came from the funeral of that other chick who just died – why anyone else at the party wasn’t is anyone’s guess. She then gets a phone call from the dead chick, except, oooooh, it’s her own voice on the other line, screaming in pain!

Hokey. What, are you going to have black cats walking under ladders next? At least give us a little effort.

So the next day Leann – that’s the chick’s name – sees imaginary centipedes crawling on peoples’ hands! Why? Let’s just make up a reason: she’s actually been targeted as bounty by a Lovecraftian monster centipede who has sent his minions to come capture her. There. Makes about as much sense as anything else. We then cut to nighttime where she calls Beth on the phone and tells her some weird things are happening. All while every person she sees is apparently a mutated ceramic muppet. Weird.

??? This is never explained...

Then she’s on this bridge and a power line gets hit and she falls…eh, not quite the ‘teacher death’ in Final Destination, but I’ll give it a C minus.

Meanwhile, this detective guy is told his sister is dead. He goes in, puts on some gloves and sticks his hand in her mouth, pulling out a tiny red orb thing, which I guess is supposed to be candy? I don’t know. Why did he stick his hand in her mouth? Is that just how he grieves? By sticking his hand in his deceased loved ones’ mouth? That’s pretty sick, guy.

Then that psychic kid from earlier gets it the next day as he and Beth are sitting outside by a construction site – why is it that every horror movie always has stuff going wrong at construction sites? It kind of gives them a bad name, doesn’t it? He forgets his phone as he’s walking away, calling the whole thing crap the entire time (a dead giveaway that you’re going to die in a horror movie). As he comes back across the street, saying that he would forget his head if it wasn’t screwed on, a pole impales him through the chest and kills him instantly.

Oh come on, movie! That’s not even funny. You could have had his head get cut off. THAT would have at least gotten a chuckle or two. Step up your game, movie!

"I just got a text from an unlisted number. It says...this movie fucking blows and anyone involved in it has no future...hmm, might as well just press 'Delete.'"

So after everyone forgets about this guy, who isn’t even given a funeral scene or anything, Beth and the detective from earlier meet up and exchange numbers because they’re the ONLY ONES who realize something weird is happening, of course. Beth and this other chick named Taylor are heckled by a weird guy from a TV show called American Miracles, where they perform exorcisms and praise the Lord to get more ratings. Take THAT, religion! One Missed Call – 1, Christianity – 0. Hah!

While Beth and the detective investigate stuff, Taylor goes on TV and – get this – her phone is put on the table and ‘exorcised.’ Or rather, shouted at. Yeah, all the guy really does is stand there and scream at Satan to stop possessing the phone, like he’s scolding a small boy to stop eating cookies before dinner, or something. After a few rounds of Extreme Shouting Exorcism Fun Time, Taylor gets so tired of it that she allows the evil ghost to strangle her right there on live TV. Of course, the TV producer guy in the back is asking if they got the shot so they can air it. Take THAT again, religion! Take THAT, big name TV studios that are only in it for the money! How DARE you try to make a living?

He's probably harmless.

Oh, and yeah, he’s screaming at a CELL PHONE. I mean really, man; take a look at yourself. You’re on TV and screaming at a cell phone. I think there are some points in life when you really have to stop and say, wow, I’m a complete failure in every respect. And this is one of those times.

So, yeah, after that bout of heavy-handed moral lessons from a movie about killer cell phones, Beth and the detective dude are suiting up for the FINAL BATTLE…or really, just for more superstitious Japanese crap that the Americans ripped off. While doing this, the detective reminisces about his sister: “She was the baby. I was supposed to protect her.” He’s about as convincing and exciting as a guy trying to decide whether to buy Dill pickles or the state’s home brand. If your actors don’t even sound excited about the script, you’re DOING SOMETHING VERY WRONG.

That’s the thing with this movie; was it even supposed to be taken seriously? There is literally no dramatic tension to any of the supposedly gut-wrenching scenes in here, even when characters DIE. That one kid who got impaled didn’t even get a cursory mention afterward! I know they can’t be expected to dwell too long on drama in a horror movie, but god damn, man; show a little humanity! How am I supposed to be in suspense if the film itself doesn’t treat its suspenseful situations with any gravity? What are those weird muppet things anyway?

Sorry. That last question has nothing to do with the paragraph it’s included in. It’s just never answered in the movie and highly bothers me.

So Beth and her new pet detective (not Ace Ventura…that’s a different kind) get into some more emotional talks as he sees some scars on her arm. This triggers the horrifying involuntary mental response of a FLASHBACK! In the flashback, Beth is a little girl who has a crazy mother who likes to burn her arm with cigarettes for no reason. We see her telling Beth to go cry to her father and…

My DVD broke at this point and I had to resume the movie later. But in place of the snarky comments I would have graced this scene with, here’s a picture:

I hope this relieved the pain of the film for you...

When I got the DVD to work again, Beth was looking up this mental institution where they traced the missed phone call messages to. It was burned down – remember that scene from the beginning with the fire? Yeah, the movie apparently learned how to tie scenes together. Let’s give a round of applause…well, no, I don’t really feel like it. She goes to the burnt down hospital…does not pay the taxi driver for some reason…and then her detective friend meets her and they go inside.

Cue laugh track anytime.

Inside, they crawl around in the dark and Beth finds the corpse of this woman who is apparently the mother of the little girl from the opening, who was saved from the fire. Why did no-one bother to take this corpse out of the building when they put the fire out? Why is she carrying a cell phone? Who the fuck knows. The corpse then comes to life, tries to strangle Beth, cries, and then just kind of…stops. Beth and the detective leave, and then they have to go tell the little girl her mother is dead.

The detective sees a picture on the wall of the girl’s room that apparently leads him to believe there’s a camera inside her teddy bear. Yeah, I know it’s stupid, but the movie is almost over. And whaddya know? There IS a hidden camera inside the teddy bear! I guess…the mother placed it there to secretly spy on her kids? The tape shows the older sister putting on a black hoodie and cutting the younger girl – the one still alive and living with the detective – with a big knife. The mom comes in and stops them, locking the older sister in the room to have a fatal asthma attack while she takes the younger sister to the hospital to cure her bloodless, un-scarred arm cut. Yeah, real nice editing there movie.

But seriously, what kind of parent is this that she lets her daughters do shit like this in the first place? It’s said in the film that it wasn’t the first time the younger daughter had been found seriously hurt. So what the hell? The answer to parenting isn’t a secret camera to spy on your kids, you fucking Neanderthals! Get help! You’re a failure as a parent and as a human being. GOD.

So yeah, the little girl has one very contrived line: “But she always gave me candy!” Which is supposed to tie together the plot about how people keep dying with little red candies in their mouths, but it doesn’t make any sense, so whatever. The detective goes to Beth’s house where he gets stabbed in the eye by the evil, eeeeevvvviiiiiillll older sister ghost-thingy. Then the mother’s ghost appears again and gets rid of the poltergeist, and the day is saved!

CELL PHONES ARE BAD. Can you see the big shining neon signs yet?

But not for me! This was a horrible movie. I mean, how much LESS sense could you possibly make? Nothing about this movie is coherent or logical! Nothing about it makes any sense in any realm of reality! Is it one of the worst movies of all time? No. But I can certainly see why people would make the argument. Fuck, I need some aspirin.

Thanks to www.dexigner.com for several of these images! And the others aren't mine either. They're the property of whoever owns them.