One Missed Call AKA Chakushin ari (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Arrow Films
Review written by and copyright: Paul Lewis (25th March 2020).
The Film

One Missed Call Trilogy

One Missed Call (Miike Takashi, 2003) synopsis: At a gathering of her friends in a restaurant, Yoko (Nagata Anna) receives a mysterious call on her mobile telephone which is signalled by a creepy, childish ringtone. The call, which is from Yoko’s own number, is dated two days in the future. Yoko hears the sound of a level crossing and a woman’s voice, her own, saying, ‘Oh no, it’s raining’ before screaming. Two days later, Yoko is on the telephone to her friend Yumi (Shibasaki Ko); Yumi hears the level crossing, and Yoko speaking the same phrase Yoko heard in the mysterious message. Immediately afterwards, Yoko is attacked by an unseen force that hurls her into the path of a passing train.

Yoko’s death is simply the latest in a series of mysterious deaths, all of which are linked by similarly mysterious telephone calls received by the victims in the days and hours before the incidents that claimed their lives. Yumi’s friend Kenji (Ida Atsushi) is the next to receive a similarly mysterious phone call, again signalled by the creepy ringtone. Predictably, Kenji also ends up dead, a mysterious force pushing him down a lift shaft.

When another of Yumi’s friends, Natsumi (Fukiishi Kazue), receives a similarly weird telephone call that is accompanied by a low-res photograph sent to her mobile phone, Natsumi tries to avoid her fate by cancelling her phone contract. However, Natsumi is tracked down by a television production crew who want to bring her into the studio so that they may perform a televised exorcism upon her; they present Natsumi with her mobile telephone. Seemingly unable to escape from the device and the curse it represents, Natsumi agrees to being exorcised live on television.

Meanwhile, Yumi teams up with Yamashita (Tsutsumi Shinichi), whose sister Ritsuko was also a victim of the curse. Yumi and Yamashita investigate the curse. Their work leads to the story of Mimiko, a 10 year old girl who died of an asthma attack – apparently following severe abuse from her mother, Marie (Tsutsui Mariko). Ritsuko was a social worker who investigated the alleged abuse of Mimiko.

Yumi and Yamashita’s investigation leads to the old hospital where Ritsuko’s investigation into Mimiko’s abuse began, where Yumi and Yamashita come face-to-face with the horror behind the cursed telephone calls.

One Missed Call 2 (Tsukamoto Renpei, 2005) synopsis: At a nursery school, Kyoko (Mimura Rie) and her friend Madoka (Chisun) say goodbye to the children in their care – including the slightly weird Rika.

That evening, in a restaurant where Kyoko and Madoka are dining, the owner, Mr Wang, picks up his daughter Mei-Feng’s (Liu Shadow) mobile telephone and hears a mysterious voicemail from Mei-Feng herself (‘I told you it’s dangerous to leave oil on the gas’) followed by horrendous screaming.

As might be expected, eventually this telephone call is proven to be prophetic, and Mr Wang is killed in the kitchen of the restaurant, his body found slumped over a pan containing hot oil.

Eventually, Madoka falls victim to the curse, and subsequently Kyoko receives a telephone call that points to her death too.

The case draws the attention of a journalist, Nozoe Takako (Seto Asaka), who sees parallels between the circumstances of Mr Wang’s death and the events depicted in the first film. Takako speaks with the grandmother of Mimiko, discovering that Mimiko was the child of ‘her mother’s rape by a lunatic intruder’; Marie’s father, Wei Zhang, caught the rapist and stabbed him to death.

A Taiwanese immigrant, Wei Zhang has returned to his home country and, it seems, claims to be in contact with the spirit of Mimiko. Takako calls her estranged husband in Taiwan; he tells her that a similar spate of deaths has been taking place there for some time. Takako travels to Taiwan, Kyoko and her friend Naoto (Yoshizawa Hisashi) in tow. However, at Wei Zhang’s home, Takako discovers nothing but a dessicated corpse – presumably Wei Zhang – holding a mobile telephone.

A series of clues leads the group to an abandoned mining town, the site of a great disaster. Before this, however, the town was tainted by the presence of a girl, Li-li, who was bullied and told the villagers that they would die – before all experienced agonizing deaths. In response, the villagers dragged Li-li to the mine, sewed her mouth shut to prevent her from ‘foretell[ing] another death’, and sealed her inside. Venturing within the mine itself, Takako and the others attempt to combat the curse of Li-li before it/she claims more victims.

One Missed Call: Final (Aso Manabu, 2006) synopsis: Teenagers Pam and Asuka (Horikita Maki) are inseparable. However, both are bullied by their peers. One day, Asuka finds Pam near death; Pam has apparently tried to hang herself. Asuka places the responsibility for Pam’s suicide attempt at the collective feet of their cruel classmates.

Pam and Asuka’s peers are scheduled to take part in a school trip to South Korea, where Emiri (Kuroki Meisa) is scheduled to meet her online friend Jinwo (Jang Keun-Suk); Emiri and Jinwo, who is deaf, have bonded online over their shared interest in sign language.

During the journey from Japan to South Korea, one of the girls, Azusa (Amakawo Miho), received a strange telephone call in which she hears, on the other end of the line, her own voice saying, ‘Man, it’s useless’. When they reach Korea, Azusa becomes separated from the herd and meets a vicious demise in an alleyway. Her death is watched by Azusa via a live stream on the Internet.

Soon after, a male student, Teruya (Yamane Kazuma), is killed in an equally cruel manner after receiving a video message on his mobile telephone. He is attacked by an electrical wire from an overhead pylon which wraps around his neck and electrocutes him.

Having heard of the cursed phone calls depicted in the first two films, the students begin to wonder if they have been cursed by Pam – who, the students believe, is in a coma. When a voice (Pam’s?) on the other end of the phone calls offers them a choice of either accepting their fate or passing the curse on to one of their friends (‘You won’t die if you forward this’), the schoolmates begin to turn on one another.

Critique: Made towards the fag-end of the boom period in the production of J-horror films, Miike Takashi’s One Missed Call (2003) has several similarities with the likes of predecessors such as Ring (Nakata Hideo, 1998) and Pulse (Kurosawa Kiyoshi, 2001, released on Blu-ray in 2017 by Arrow Video and reviewed by us here). There are structural similarities with Ring, in particular. Like Ring, the core of One Missed Call focuses on a young woman’s (Yumi’s) attempts to identify the source of the curse in the hopes of, having already been marked by it, averting her fate as its next victim. As with Ring, One Missed Call is based on a novel (Akimoto Yasushi’s Chakushin Ari); and like Ring and Pulse (and numerous other J-horror pictures), One Missed Call depicts new media (in this case, mobile telephones) as a conduit for the supernatural that enables a demonic/supernatural ‘infestation’ to spread as if it were a virus. Where Ring’s premise was focused on the ‘haunted’ videotape featuring the wronged spirit of Sadako Yamamura, in One Missed Call the supernatural manifests itself through voicemails left on victims’ mobile telephones, which when listened to offer a glimpse/premonition of their (the victims’) deaths in the near future that are anchored by the dates and times of the messages – which identify when the victims will die. Aside from the more obvious parallels with the technohorror of David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1982), in these films – including One Missed Call and its sequels – the core premise (a supernatural ‘virus’ is spread by new technologies) might invite comparison with the work of Nigel Kneale – in particular, Kneale’s 1972 teleplay for The Stone Tape, in which scientists investigate the possibility that ‘ghosts’ may be captured and replayed like recordings on magnetic tape; Kneale’s teleplay was itself based on his earlier radio play You Must Listen, in which it is discovered that a ‘haunted’ telephone line somehow replays the final conversation to take place between a woman and a lover before she took her own life, which itself sounds like the premise of a more modern J-horror film.

Kinoshita Chika has described the J-horror films, generally, as dependent upon ‘the low-key production of atmospheric and psychological fear, rather than graphic gore, capitalizing on urban legends proliferated through mass media and popular culture (Kinoshita, 2010: 104). Kinoshita argues that the directors associated with J-horror were of a similar age to one another and many cited influences including European and American directors of horror pictures (specifically, the likes of Mario Bava, John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper) alongside an interest in horror-themed manga by writers such as Koga Shin’ichi and Yamagishi Ryoko (ibid.). The J-horror directors were ‘avid cinephiles who started off making films in college cine-clubs and had a keen interest in film history and critical theory’; their styles were hammered out in V-Cinema (straight-to-video) productions before they transitioned to feature films (ibid.). Kinoshita’s ‘profile’ of J-horror filmmakers is particularly apt in relation to Miike Takashi, the director of One Missed Call, whose skill as a filmmaker was honed during the 1990s in the world of V-Cinema. In those V-Cinema productions, Miike learnt to use whatever resources were available to him and developed an economic approach to narrative (that, arguably, he has somewhat abandoned in some of his more recent productions). However, in Flowers from Hell (2008) Jim Harper suggests that despite a few of One Missed Call’s more outrageous moments of ‘inventive cruelty’, the film has relatively little in common with those films of Miike’s which made his name known outside Japan (such as Audition, Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of which has been reviewed by us here, and Ichi the Killer).

As with Ring and many other J-horror pictures, the hauntings in One Missed Call are caused by the spirit of a young woman who has been wronged and is seeking vengeance – a manifestation of the concept of the onryō, the vengeful spirits of Japanese folklore who tend to be women who have died violently either through murder or suicide. ‘They say it’s some woman who died full of hate’, some schoolgirls tell Yumi when speaking of the deaths, ‘She gets you through the phone. And then she goes through the numbers in the cell phone of the dead person, and that’s how she goes from one victim to the next’.

Like many other contemporaneous J-horror films, One Missed Call is essentially about childhood trauma and buried events in one’s past: in the opening restaurant scene of One Missed Call, one of Yumi’s friends asserts that ‘Phobias come from something we can’t forget’. Of course, as One Missed Call’s narrative suggests, one can forget childhood traumas – and the burying of those memories can lead to deep-seated fears and anxieties. This aspect of the film is underscored by Yumi’s role as a student of the psychological impact of child abuse and bullying, which leads into the revelation that Mimiko – at least, it seems – was a victim of severe physical abuse by her mother, who left Mimiko to die from an asthma attack. As the narrative progresses, however, we realises that the Mimiko similarly suffered abuse as a child, and the circumstances surrounding Mimiko’s death were much more complicated than they initially appeared to be. (Watching many J-horror films, one might be reminded fairly constantly of Philip Larkin’s assertion that ‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad / They may not mean to, but they do / They fill you with the faults they had / And add some extra, just for you’.)

Alison Peirse has suggested that one of the reasons for the transnational appeal of a number of ‘J-horror’ films of this period is the focus on the relationships between parent and child (usually in these films, mother and child) (Peirse, 2013: 151). K K Seet has referred to these films as a form of ‘domestic gothic’, reworking the tropes of traditional Gothic fiction in a modern Japanese domestic setting (Seet, cited in ibid.: 176). Colette Balmain has connected the J-horror pictures’ focus on family breakdown and trauma alongside a moderately long-standing tradition in American horror films to focus on ‘the break-up of the nuclear family’ (Balmain, 2008: 128). These films include, of course, The Shining, The Amityville Horror (Stuart Rosenberg, 1979), Poltergeist and The Stepfather (Joseph Ruben, 1987) (Balmain, 2008: 128). However, where most American horror films that explore this theme focus on ‘the sins of the father’ and corrupt patriarchs (such as Jack Torrance), the ‘J-horror’ pictures tend to examine ‘the sins of the mother, and her daughter as her double, that return to threaten the home as microcosm of society, signifying the persistence of trauma, both historical and economic’ (ibid.).

Perhaps the most impressive sequence within One Missed Call is the one in which Natsumi is subjected to a televised exorcism. This sequence amplifies the ‘meta’ elements within the plot, adding another layer of media to the circulation of the virus. A live broadcast, the exorcism takes place in a television studio, the producers watching on a bank of monitors as the exorcism is introduced via a panel discussion before Natsumi is introduced to the monk who is to perform the cleansing ritual. During this process, Natsumi sees the spirit’s long hair wrapped around her feet and then, at the rear of the studio set, she spots the location of the mysterious photograph that was embedded in the message she received on her mobile telephone, and Natsumi realises that this is the location of her death. It’s arguably the film’s most frightening sequence, because Natsumi’s death takes place in front of an audience of both the people in the studio and the audience watching events unfold on their televisions.

The ‘threat’ that the supernatural represents for the characters in the narrative is amplified by an emphasis on oral folklore/urban legends that are told by one character to another within the film itself. One Missed Call opens with Yumi and her friends in a restaurant. One of Yumi’s male friends tells the others the story of a friend who had a supernatural encounter: ‘A friend of mine, he lives in an apartment where a guy killed himself’, he begins, ‘The other day, when he was washing himself he felt someone behind him. When he turned around, resting on his shoulder was a bony, white arm’. Shortly afterwards, of course, a similar white arm is seen resting on Yoko’s shoulder; it’s a subtle moment, easy to miss if one isn’t paying complete attention to the screen, but indexical of the film’s emphasis on oral folklore and the validation of its myths within the diegesis of the film itself. On the other hand, the mysterious, supernatural nature of the phone calls is contrasted with the rationality of the detective investigating the case, who believes utterly in the notion that the deaths can be given a logical explanation. ‘There’s a reason for everything’, he tells Yumi, ‘No death is unexplainable’. (In the second film, the same detective asserts that, ‘There is a reason for everything. Nothing in this world is inexplicable’.

One Missed Call 2 opens with nursery school teacher Kyoko and her friend and colleague Madoka saying goodbye to the children in their care. Kyoko and Madoka are in some ways polar opposites: Kyoko is diligent and committed to her work, whilst Madoka is fun-loving and seeks to distract Kyoko from her responsibilities. They say farewell to Rika, a slightly strange child who tells them that ‘When it rains, the souls of the dead pour down to earth’ before a woman, her face obscured by the brim of a large umbrella, collects Rika – who waves goodbye to someone, or something, unseen in the schoolroom behind Kyoko. This is the first hint of something supernatural, which is confirmed by the events in Mr Wang’s restaurant.

Kyoko and Madoka’s roles as nursery school teachers allows the narrative to bring to the foreground the issues of abuse and childhood trauma that are at the heart of the first One Missed Call. ‘Some of our children are in a bad way. Abused and stuff’, Madoka tells their friends in Mr Wang’s restaurant. Again, the story draws focus on an urban legend – one in which a girl with a sewn-up mouth visits her victims before their deaths. This story is told to Kyoko by a schoolgirl: ‘A girl appears at your bedside at 2:22 am. At first glance, she’s got no mouth. Then you look close and there is one. But it’s hard to see because it’s all sewn-up. Then she mumbles, “Play with me”. If you refuse or don’t answer, she stitches up your mouth’.

Early in One Missed Call 2, the characters acknowledge the events of the first film (‘I remember, about a year ago, that thing with the spooky cell phones’). After Mr Wang’s death, we are told that Yumi is still missing, apparently having been possessed by the spirit of Mimiko. When Takuko speaks with Mimiko’s grandmother, the old woman refers to her own grandchild as a ‘creepy little thing’, telling Takuko that Mimiko was the child of a rape – and the rapist was stabbed to death by Mimiko’s grandfather, the Taiwanese immigrant Wei Zhang. This leads Takuko to visiting Taiwan, with Kyoko and Naoto in tow. There, they discover that Mimiko is a red herring; it seems Mimiko may simply have been the curse’s next victim, after the death of her grandfather, Wei Zhang. Again, the clue lies in one of the characters’ childhoods, in a buried memory that gradually reveals itself. The emphasis on these memories, presented through semi-ambiguous flashbacks, suggests structuring similarities between the film and the genre of the memory play – or perhaps a sense of comparison with Sergio Leone’s Westerns, for example, in which a buried memory is gradually revealed, its final revelation helping to clarify some of its ambiguities and lead to a form of redemption (eg, in For a Few Dollars More, 1965; Once Upon a Time in the West, 1968; and Giu la testa, 1971).

One Missed Call: Final repeats many of the same beats as the previous entries in the series, though contains a final ‘twist’ which most attentive viewers will spot a mile off. Again, near the start of the picture the young people are shown sharing ghost stories; on their journey to Korea, one of the schoolmates tells the others of a previous school rip where a girl heard mysterious noises coming from the bunk bed above hers, and a spirit telling her, ‘I can’t breathe’.

One Missed Call: Final focuses on the cruelty of youth, via the students’ merciless bullying of Azusa and Pam – which leads Pam to attempt suicide – and, on the trip to Korea, two male students, including Shinichi (Tochihara Rakuto). When the group realise the dangers of the telephone calls they are receiving – the curse of Pam – they turn on one another. In the calls, Pam offers each student the chance to save themselves – but only if they forward the curse on to another member of the group. It isn’t long before the students begin to take advantage of this offer, leading the group of students to become increasingly fractious and paranoid. When Tomoka (Takahashi Ayumi) receives a ‘cursed’ call, she is told ‘You won’t die if you forward this’. Tomoka forwards the call on to her presumed friend, Mizue (Hashimoto Mami); Mizue begs Tomoka not to pass the curse on to her, asking, ‘We’re friends, aren’t we?’ ‘Then, would you die in my place?’, Tomoka asks Mizue.

When Emiri decides to telephone Azusa, to find out whether Pam is dead or alive, Azusa reminds Emiri of the origins of the phrase ‘pecking order’: ‘Do you know about the pecking order of chickens?’, Azusa asks Emiri, ‘When vertebrate animals are caged up together, they always end up pecking each other. Usually they peck to weaker ones. And the weakest one that has no-one to peck ends up pecking the ground in vain. I think people are the same too’. Azusa ends with her monologue with a bleak assertion about human nature, ‘You don’t need a reason to peck. No matter who it is [….] Anyone can peck someone to death’. However, Emiri attempts to counteract the curse by using the connective power of new technology: she posts on the Internet telling its users to flood the email address from which the messages originate with messages of positivity and goodwill. On a narrative level, this is arguably trite, but offers an interesting metaphor for the power of new technology to bring together disparate people and groups within the context of current global anxieties.

Video

DISC ONE contains One Missed Call. The main feature, presented in 1080p and using the AVC codec, fills approximately 33Gb of space on a dual-layered Blu-ray disc. The film runs for 112:14 mins, and the film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

One Missed Call was photographed on 35mm colour stock. Arrow’s presentation is very pleasing, with a pleasing level of detail throughout and the contrast levels showcase the film’s lowkey lighting schemes pretty well. Midtones have definition and there is subtle gradation into the shadows but black levels seem slightly elevated in places. The colour palette is mostly naturalistic (albeit slightly muted) with some scenes featuring strong primary coloured gels on the lights. These are all communicated nicely in this presentation. The encode to disc retains the structure of 35mm film.

DISC TWO contains both One Missed Call 2 and One Missed Call: Final. Both films take up 18Gb apiece on the disc, and both are presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Both films are also presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

One Missed Call 2 runs for 105:51 mins and One Missed Call: Final runs for 104:03 mins. Both films were shot on 35mm colour film with a digital intermediate. Perhaps as a result, they have a noticeably different aesthetic to the first film. One Missed Call 2 features a less naturalistic palette, with an emphasis on the juxtaposition of warm and cold hues within the same frame. There are also the flashbacks to Li-li’s torture and humiliation, which are presented with some funky-looking video effects. There is also noticeable ‘crushing’ of detail in the shadows, though this could be intentional. Detail is pleasing, however, and there’s a filmlike texture to most of the film though some digital noise seems to creep into the darker scenes at times. Interestingly, there are burnt-in Japanese subtitles for non-Japanese dialogue. This might be present on the intermediate source used for this presentation, or perhaps might suggest the master was created for distribution in Japan.

The same is true (Japanese subtitles for non-Japanese dialogue) of the presentation of One Missed Call: Final. Again, One Missed Call: Final has a slight ‘digital’ look which is most likely owing to the fact that a digital intermediate was used in post-production. As with One Missed Call 2, the presentation features some noticeably ‘crushed’ shadows. Most of the film has a very naturalistic palette but there are some shots and scenes that feature very expressive colour and lighting. It’s a good presentation though not a great one.

One Missed Call


One Missed Call 2


One Missed Call: Final


Full-sized screen grabs are included at the bottom of this review. Please click to enlarge.

Audio

All three films contain the same audio options: a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, or a LPCM 2.0 stereo track. Optional English subtitles are included. In the case of all three films, both audio tracks are solid, with good range and audible dialogue. The 5.1 tracks contain added ‘punch’, however, especially in the films’ scare scenes, which are punctuated by sharp and dynamic use of sound. The English subtitles are easy to read and grammatically correct.

As noted above, One Missed Call 2 and One Missed Call: Final contain burnt-in Japanese subtitles (for Chinese-language dialoge in the case of One Missed Call 2, and for sign language and Korean dialogue in the case of One Missed Call: Final).

Extras

Disc contents are as follows:
DISC ONE:
- One Missed Call (112:14)
.

- Audio commentary with Tom Mes
. Mes provides a typically exhaustive commentary that explores the pivotal position of One Missed Call in Miike Takashi’s career, and reflects on the film’s relationship with the J-horror boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Mes discusses the film’s distinctive use of sound, and he talks about the film’s themes – including its approach to the impact of technology on people’s lives in the early 21st Century.

- ‘The Making of One Missed Call’ (57:06)
. Opening with an interview with Miike in which he explains his motivations for making One Missed Call and articulates what he hoped to achieve with the film – to create a non-formulaic horror picture – this documentary examines the production of the film. Employing behind the scenes footage interspersed with interviews with the cast and crew, the documentary looks at the film’s approach to horror and discusses the locations used in the picture. Japanese with optional English subtitles.

- Cast and Crew Interviews: Shibasaki Kou (6:26); Tsutsumi Shinichi (3:34); Fukiishi Kazue (1:56); Miike Takashi (2:31)
. These are EPK-style interviews, with on-screen text questions and soundbite responses from the participants. Japanese with optional English subtitles.
-
- Interview with Miike Takashi (20:15)
. Miike talks about the origins of the film and discusses his approach to making it. He talks about the process of (co)writing the script and revising the narrative during the shooting of the film itself. Japanese with optional English subtitles.

- Screenings (14:09)
. Red carpet footage of the film’s premiere and onstage interviews with the key cast and crew. Japanese with optional English subtitles.

- ‘Live or Die’ (11:56)
. This is raw footage from the televised exorcism depicted in the film, presented as-is. (In the completed film, this footage is shown on various monitors.) The footage is presented from several angles. Japanese with optional English subtitles.

- ‘A Day with the Mizunuma Family’ (2:45)
. This is the raw footage of the Mizunuma family which is shown in the finished film.

- Alternate Ending (3:44)
. Japanese with optional English subtitles.

- Theatrical Trailer (1:21)
.

- Teaser Trailers (0:51)
.

- TV Spots (2:15)
.


DISC TWO:
- One Missed Call 2 (105:51)

- One Missed Call: Final (104:03)

- ‘The Making of One Missed Call 2’ (32:46)
. Essentially an EPK-style piece, this documentary is assembled from interviews with some of the sequel’s key participants, interspersed with behind the scenes footage of the film’s production. Comments are in Japanese with optional English subtitles.

- Gomu (3:51)
. This short, digitally-shot film was made by Tsukamoto Renpei to accompany One Missed Call 2. It features a salaryman receiving a cursed phone call, and builds to an admittedly bizarre climax. Japanese with optional English subtitles.

- One Missed Call 2 Deleted Scenes (10:10)
. Tsukamoto Renpei introduces the deleted scenes, which include an extended version of the scene in which the group visit the mining town and meet Gao Shumei, the blind old woman who tells them the story of Li-li; a scene which links the events of the second films more closely to those of the first; and an additional scare scene from the sequence that takes place when the group first arrive at the mining town. Japanese with optional English subtitles.

- One Missed Call 2 Music Video (4:46)
.

- One Missed Call 2 Theatrical Trailer (1:38)
.

- One Missed Call 2 Teaser Trailers (1:37)
.

- One Missed Call 2 TV Spots (1:17).

- ‘The Making of One Missed Call: Final’ (51:55)
. This documentary, seemingly made for Japanese television, examines the production of One Missed Call: Final. It features behind the scenes footage interspersed with interviews with the key cast and crew, and is guided by the voice of an offscreen narrator. Japanese with optional English subtitles.

- ‘Maki and Meisa’ (15:34)
. This is a featurette which focuses on the work of the film’s actresses, Horikita Maki and Kuroki Meisa, as they promote One Missed Call: Final by attending a photoshoot and interview session. Japanese with optional English subtitles.

- Behind the Scenes with Keun-Suk Jang (11:45)
. This short featurette, featuring Keun-Suk speaking to camera alongside some candid footage of the actor, was produced to introduce the South Korean actor to the film’s Japanese audience. Korean/Japanese with optional English subtitles and burnt-in Japanese subtitles for when Keun-Suk speaks Korean.

- The Love Story (12:06)
. This short film was made to accompany One Missed Call: Final and focuses on the trans-national relationship between Emiri and Jinwo. Japanese with optional English subtitles.

- ‘Candid Mimiko’ (15:02)
. This made-for-TV segment looks at the locations used in the film, with the actress who plays Mimiko being put through the ringer by a fake production crew who attempt to terrify her(!) Japanese with optional English subtitles.

- One Missed Call: Final Theatrical Trailer (1:49)
.

Overall

One Missed Call was a somewhat different film for Miike Takashi – a much more mainstream picture compared with the other films of Miike’s that had made his name with audiences outside Japan (such as Audition, The Happiness of the Katakuris and Ichi the Killer). (In the footage of the film’s Japanese premiere that is included on this disc, Miike cracks a joke to the audience in attendance at the screening about needing One Missed Call to be a commercial success.) Aside from a few setpieces (and the ‘live’ exorcism is a standout), One Missed Call struggles to stand out in Miike’s filmography. Capitalising on the transnational appeal of the J-horror genre, One Missed Call came towards the end of the boom period of that particular cycle and wasn’t as much of a hit with overseas audiences as the like of Ring and The Grudge, for instance. However, like many of the boom-period J-horror pictures, One Missed Call was subjected to an American remake in 2008, directed by Eric Valette. The word ‘subjected’ is appropriate here because these American remakes of J-horror (and K-horror films) were invariably lacklustre attempts to capture lightning in a bottle and for the most part paled in comparison to the originals; Valette’s remake of One Missed Call is no exception to this general rule.

Without a director with the bravado of Miike at the helm, the sequels to One Missed Call definitely fall prey to the law of diminishing returns, though One Missed Call 2 contains a climax, which takes place predominantly in the abandoned mining town in Taiwan, that is particularly memorable. Nevertheless, it’s good to see the films collected here in HD presentations, and it’s interesting to revisit these films in the age of smartphones as, the flip phones used by the characters throughout the series were at the cutting edge of mobile phone technology at the time of the films’ original releases, but now their lo-fi photo and video capabilities and 16-bit sounding ringtones seem slightly antiquated.

One Missed Call looks very good on this presentation, with a filmlike look to the HD image. Both One Missed Call 2 and One Missed Call: Final have a slightly ‘digital’ look, on the other hand, which is probably owing to the use of a digital intermediate in the postproduction of both features. OMC2’s palette make noticeable use of contrasting warm/cold hues, often within the same frame. Both OMC2 and OMC: Final display noticeable black crush. (Both OMC2 and OMC: Final also contain burnt-in Japanese subtitles for non-Japanese dialogue, which might say something about the source/s used for the presentations of these two films – either the Japanese subtitles were created for the digital intermediate or the masters used for these two films were created for distribution in Japan.) One Missed Call looks by far the best out of the three films, which is owing both to its original photography and the quality of this Blu-ray presentation.

All three films are accompanied by a variety of contextual material, that relating to the original One Missed Call being the best in quality. Tom Mes’ commentary track, in particular, helps to situate the film within the context of the J-horror boom generally and, more specifically, Miike’s career as a film director.

References:
Bingham, Adam, 2015: Contemporary Japanese Cinema Since ‘Hana-Bi’. Edinburgh University Press

Harper, Jim, 2008: Flowers from Hell: The Modern Japanese Horror Film. Hereford: Noir Publishing

Kinoshita, Chika, 2010: ‘The Mummy Complex: Kurosawa Kiyoshi’s Loft and J-horror’. In: Choi, Jinhee & Wada-Marciano, Mitsuyo (eds), 2010: Horror to the Extreme: Changing Boundaries in Asian Cinema. Hong Kong University Press: 103-22

Peirse, Alison, 2013: Korean Horror Cinema. Edinburgh University Press

Walter, Brenda S Gardenour, 2014: ‘Ghastly Transmissions: The Horror of Connectivity and the Transnational Flow of Fear’. In: Och, Diana & Strayer, Kristen (eds), 2014: Transnational Horror Across Visual Media: Fragmented Bodies. London: Routledge: np

Wee, Valerie, 2014: Japanese Horror Films and Their American Remakes. London: Routledge

Please click to enlarge.
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One-Missed-Call-26

One Missed Call 2
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h49m54s300
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h50m14s524
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h50m27s556
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h50m49s838
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h51m15s479
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h51m20s813
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h51m24s151
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h51m46s862

One Missed Call: Final
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h52m53s430
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h53m44s762
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h54m01s268
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h54m12s240
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h54m22s228
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h54m26s753
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h54m43s614
vlcsnap-2020-03-24-19h54m53s488

 


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