One Missed Call Trilogy: One Missed Call Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Arrow Video

Directed by Takashi Miike
Written by Miwako Daira, based on the novel by Yasushi Akimoto
2003, 112 minutes, Rated R
Released on February 25th, 2020

Kô Shibasaki as Yumi Nakamura
Shin'ichi Tsutsumi as Hiroshi Yamashita
Kazue Fukiishi as Natsumi Konishi
Anna Nagata as Yoko Okazaki
Atsushi Ida as Kenji Kawai
Mariko Tsutsui as Marie Mizunuma



Yumi is a popular and carefree teenager with many friends, including besties Yoko and Natsumi. While enjoying a night out with the gang, Yoko receives a call with a strange ringtone and doesn’t answer. She plays back the message and is shocked to see the caller ID reveals the call came from her own phone and the voicemail is dated two days from now. On the recording she hears her own voice followed by a scream. Everyone agrees it is strange, but carry on with making plans for the weekend. Two days later while on the phone with Yumi, Yoko repeats the phrase from the message and soon after falls to her death. A pattern begins to form as other friends receive calls with the unique ringtone only to end up dead a few days later. Yumi and Natsumi learn of a curse of an angry woman that is passed on through a cell phone’s contact list that reveals a person’s exact moment of death.

Everyone at school is scared and when Natsumi’s phone rings – while turned off – her classmates clamor for her to remove their numbers from her address book. Yumi comforts her friend, but when they return home they are swarmed by a TV news crew asking questions and offering to help with an on-camera exorcism. It is here that Yumi meets Yamashita, a guy who has recently been shadowing her. He tells her his sister died of the curse six months ago and he is researching a way to break it. She joins him in his journey hoping to save Natsumi and together they uncover more clues. Now, Yumi’s phone rings and she receives the deadly message. With the clock ticking, they continue their search for answers and make some shocking discoveries.

Japanese horror (J-horror) cinema became quite popular in 1998 with the release of Ringu (aka Ring), a movie about a cursed videotape that kills anyone who watches it in seven days’ time. A box office smash, the picture combined elements of Japanese folklore with the fear of technology. It introduced audiences to the image of a ghost appearing as a pale young girl with long black hair covering her face, usually in a white dress and occasionally dripping wet. In the wave of movies that followed, this sight quickly became an overused visual cue. At the height of this craze, a good number of titles were being scooped up and remade for American audiences. As the cycle wound down, the output seemed to be geared simply towards getting a Hollywood remake.


One Missed Call (2003) features all of the familiar tropes associated with J-horror, including the vengeful ghost, the creepy kid, a modern piece of technology delivering death and a heroine working on a limited timeframe to solve a mystery. Not unlike the American slasher movies of the 1980s, these films don’t stray too far from a working formula. What makes this picture stand above many of its contemporaries is the steady hand of visionary director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer). Despite this being his most conventional work as a filmmaker, Miike breathes new life into old material proving there are more scares to be had if you know where to look.

Working from a script written by Miwako Daira (based on the novel by Yasushi Akimoto), Miike explores the loneliness of death and draws out the experience for his victims. He also tackles themes of fate versus free will and there is a running thread of the horrors of child abuse at the heart of the story. The film features a number of suspenseful moments, including an extended sequence in an abandoned hospital. The idea of taking an everyday object like a cell phone and turning into a harbinger of death is appealing. Victims are selected at random and don’t have to be guilty of committing bad behavior, they only need to share a passing acquaintance with the previous target. One Missed Call was a hit with audiences and spawned two sequels and a Hollywood remake.


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