In this US remake of Takashi Miike's 2003 chiller, a supernatural force is causing havoc on campus: students are receiving phone calls from the near future which play back the sound of their own imminent deaths. Each victim is duly drowned, impaled, or hit by a train, and a random name in their cellphone list is then called, forwarding the curse to the next terrified target. Having watched her friends expire one by one, psychology scholar Beth Raymond (Shannyn Sossamon) eventually gets her own dialed-up death sentence, and enlists the help of cop Jack Andrews (Ed Burns), whose sister has also fallen foul of the phantom. Can they destroy the source of the calls before Beth's allotted execution? This flat, workmanlike retread may make you want to hang up before finding out.
For, aptly, Ed Burns's performance feels as though he phoned it in. His low-energy approach might've worked as world-weariness in a naturalistic police procedural, but in the face of the supernatural, he's simply not astounded or terrified enough. He's also dramatically redundant, as Sossamon (bland but adequate considering the characterless role she's been given) does most of the investigating herself, tracing the hub of the haunting to events at a burnt-out hospital. It's here that the film reaches an effects-laden finale which doesn't achieve the intensity it's aiming for due to the dullness of the characterisation and performances.
"THE GHOSTLY EFFECTS ARE WELL DONE... BUT"
At least the reason for the haunting is one the script hadn't necessarily led you to expect, and the ghostly effects are well done. But the blurry, sped-up, head-shaking hallucination-style apparition which startled us two decades ago in Jacob's Ladder and Twin Peaks is starting to look like a cliche now, as is the arrival of spectral children accompanied by twinkly mechanical toy music. Those coming to One Missed Call in search of ground-breaking horror have definitely dialed the wrong number.
One Missed Call is out in the UK on 4th April 2008.