Comparing “One Missed Call”

Evan Williamson, Courier Staff

Last Halloween, I compared a Japanese horror film with its American remake, and I had so much fun, I thought it would be cool to do it again.

I’m still not brave enough to watch “The Grudge” or “The Ring,” so I chose the film “One Missed Call.” Like before, I thought I’d start with the American remake.

It is touted as the worst remake of a Japanese horror film ever, now since I’m watching it first, I won’t know. It starts off in an interesting way. There is a huge fire at a hospital and a little girl is rescued and asked if she knew where her mom was, and she remains silent. It then shifts to a female student at her home with her cat. One thing leads to another, and the typical horror movie tropes come into play. Her cat suspects something is in the water, the girl looks into the water and there’s a jump scare of her and her cat being pulled in.

Next, we are at a funeral for the girl but after the funeral, one of her friends goes to a party to talk to someone. While she is there, her phone rings with a weird ringtone that she says does not belong to her. The call is revealed to be from the girl who died, with a voicemail left from a date that hasn’t happened yet, and it’s from none other than the phone owner herself, so we get right into it.

When another death happens, which is revealed to be the detective’s sister, he discovers a red ball in her mouth. We go back to Leann, who was the owner of the phone that was previously called and she is revealed to start hallucinating. She later died in an accident after dining, though it shows her calling someone (herself) on the phone and another one of those red balls is found.

The rest of the movie is a mystery that leads to an ending that shocked me to an extent that it left me scratching my head. The rest of the movie features plenty of jump scares so it is not for the weary of heart.

“One Missed Call’s” Japanese counterpart (Chakushin ari) had a lot of similarities but one of the deaths was far more gruesome than the American version.

In the American version, the character is strangled by an invisible force, but in the Japanese version, she gets her arm bent back and wrapped around her head, ripping off her arm and her head (no blood shown).

The Japanese one is also more emotional. I don’t know if it was the acting or the little extra stuff they had. It was definitely a lot scarier and more tragic than the other, and the ending is just as confusing, if not moreso.

Japanese horror movies tend to hit you at a more psychological level and this one was no different. Like other Japanese horror films, this one had very little music, so you always have that sense of dread. There are two other movies in this series in Japan. I have no idea if they are connected at all, but I might look them up.

Again, it is very interesting to see the cultural differences in American horror with the blood, guts, unnecessary jump scares and exposition (which I appreciate). Japanese horror which is more towards your mind your feelings and makes you think and interpret the meanings yourself.