day kindergarten teacher Kyoko visits a Chinese restaurant where her boyfriend
Naoto works. All of a sudden, her friend’s cell phone rings in a weird
tone, reminding them of a spooky incident last year when people received
voice messages from themselves and died 3 days later. Joined by a reporter
and her separted husband Yu-Ting, they uncover the secret behind these horrible
and fatal calls…And everything points to a girl who was tortured to
death with her mouth being literally sewed up!
Is there anything new under the sun of Japanese horror? Once thought innovative
by foreign critics and fans for its subtle use of atmosphere and its unique
mix of modern technology and traditional folklore (including female ghosts
with white faces, long hair and bad attitudes) the genre has become as formulaic
as the "Nightmare on Elm Street" films.
Among the most successful of recent J-horror films was "Chakushin Ari
(One Missed Call)," Takashi Miike's reworking of a Korean film, "The
Phone," that was in turn a rip-off of "Ringu". Instead of
videotape, that oh-so-'80s technology, the transmitter of ghostly grudges
was the cell phone. Save for a few scares in the third act that were unmistakably
Miike, the film had little else that was new, but fans lined up.
All three of the "Ringu" films as well as "Chakushin Ari"
were released at this chilly time of year. So followed on was "Chakushin
Ari 2 (One Missed Call 2)," which continues the haunted cell-phone
saga, albeit with a new director, TV veteran Renpei Tsukamoto, and a mostly
new cast, headed by TV drama star Mimura.
The only really new twist are the Taiwanese locations where much of the
action unfolds including a sinister, abandoned mine and a decrepit-looking
electrical grid. Otherwise the script by Minako Daira, who also co-wrote
"Chakushin Ari," follows the narrative tracks laid down by previous
spooks, including a back story, set in the misty past, to explain the present-day
goings-on. Also, many of the scares, including shadowy black ghosts sidling
about in the background and gray hands suddenly gripping wrists with demonic
strength, are J-Horror regulars. Also, the cell phones are all the latest
models, with big screens and streaming video that make the looming ghosts
and panicking victims all the more scary.
In directing this material, Tsukamoto makes little pretense to Miike-esque
originality. Instead he serves up what he and his producers think their
teenage audience mostly wants: big shocks and plenty of them. In other words,
welcome back to Elm Street -- or rather the Japanese version of it. However,
it delivers with a force that compels attention and with a persistence that
gets under the skin. Neither slumming nor clowning around, he creates the
illusion of conviction that gives Japanese horror so much of its power.
The heroine Kyoko (Mimura), a daycare-center teacher, studying to be a child
therapist, consequently has little time for boyfriend Naoto (Yu Yoshizawa),
an aspiring photographer, are enjoying a rare night out when they hear a
melody on her cell phone that sounds creepily familiar. In "Chakushin
Ari" it played whenever a message appeared, dated three days in future
that foretold the death of the cell phone's owner, down to the recording
of the death scream. This time, the fatal event arrives sooner, with equally
Why not, I wondered, ditch the damn phone altogether? But that, to the film's
characters, is unthinkable. Better off horrifically dead than without a
cell! In that respect, as in others, "Chakushin Ari 2" is a movie
for our times. To future generations, with their now-unimaginable techno
horrors, it will probably look as silly as "The Mummy" and its
Pharaonic curse does to ours.
more than the usual set-up and scene selection.
equipped with Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0.
apparently put into thought of the play of light and dark spaces but at
times fails in extreme dark scenes until you barely see what’s going
on. Lucky for us it doesn’t last long too much. Subtitled in both
English and Chinese.
Review by Lokman B S