One Missed Call 2 (2005)'

Class: Staff
Author: Anthony Romero
Score: (2/5)
April 28th, 2006 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

Horror sequels, the very notion tends to get one prepared for either retreads of the previous film's plot or for the movie to take the series in a bizarre, often illogical, direction. In this regard, One Missed Call 2, which follows in the footsteps of the cursed mobile phone ring tone plot established from the first, does little to break the stereotype. In fact, it tends to commit both criticisms. While Takashi Miike's film that started the series was entertaining fluff in an over popularized Japanese horror genre, this movie is just there. Like sequels in the genre before it, One Missed Call 2 is an entirely unneeded film that rewrites the mythos established by the first while also taking the story in a strange direction that doesn't make a great deal of sense. The actors, and the characters that they inhibit, are also pretty weak across the board, and while the production values on this film are fairly high for the genre they do little to elevate the movie as a whole.

The plot starts roughly one year after the events that occurred in the first film. Apparently, Yumie Nakamura killed Hiroshi Yamashita about a year ago before vanishing, while the police continue to try and discover exactly what took place. In the meantime, more deaths have started to occur, each following the person receiving a cell phone call with the same ring tone from a year ago, while hearing himself or herself in the future just before they die. The cases differ in one way, though: they lack Mimiko's trademark candy that was placed in the victim's mouth. The police investigate more into the girl's history, which leads them to visit Taiwan to locate the girl's stepfather. The chase ends up being futile, though, as the man is found dead, killed with a cell phone clutched between his hands. However, it's soon revealed that these new victims have something in common: coal dust lining each of their stomachs. It's also learned that Mimiko's stepfather had died years ago before she had. This leads to the discovery that Mimiko was not the originator of this trend in murders, as the police look to Taiwan to uncover the truth.

Given the basic plot, I assume it's not hard to see how this movie could easily go about rewriting events from the first. To the second film's credit, at least the start is promising, with an eerie rain stricken school that Rika, Mimiko's younger sister, is attending before the movie goes to establish the main characters. Unfortunately, the quality of the story quickly dips beyond this point, while the opening stuff with Rika ends up being completely unimportant; in fact, it feels like it was slapped on only to try and connect this movie just a little more with its predecessor. It's in this regard that the movie really goes astray, as director Renpei Tsukamoto and writer Miwako Daira seem to want to produce their own unique horror movie yet have to do so through the confines of a sequel to an already existing franchise. The ending result is that there are two “killers” running around in this movie, both using the cell phone “gimmick” from the first. The movie stresses that this newer character, Li Li, was the one who turned Mimiko into the specter type being that people are familiar with, but actually does very little to convincingly connect the events. This creates for a sort of awkward union, as both characters are huge threats to the protagonists yet they seem like seperate plots and never collide in any significant way. How could this have been improved? Well personally I would have enjoyed a confrontation sequence between the two little girls, butcher knives vs. Li Li's giant needles, but that would probably have had many rolling their eyes. In reality the story probably would have been better had it simply focused just on the new girl Li Li, or had not brought her up at all and returned to exploring the exploits of Mimiko. In fact, I would imagine that many people were hoping for the latter.

This second movie is setup where the viewer is not meant to think too hard about the proceeding events and how they figure in with the story from the first film. Otherwise one would be able to point out a wealth of plot holes established by this film; however, the movie is contradictory in this regard as One Missed Call 2's ending won't make a lick of sense unless one dissects the plots of both fairly thoroughly. In doing so, there are a couple of things that the viewer is going to have to simply ignore in order for everything to fit. First off, one will have to disregard the fact that there was actually a back-story to the ring tone used in the series, where it was taken from a doll that Mimiko's sister carried around of a popular contemporary kids show. This is on account of it clashing with the idea that Li Li was the original killer as she would have been using the tune long before meeting Mimiko, or even likely before the show that it came from was created. Second off, and probably the hardest for most to stomach, one is also going to have to ignore the fact that the viewer actually saw how Mimiko died in the first movie, through an asthma attack after her mother left with the injured Rika. This is because, according to this film, her death was actually from a run-in with Li Li.

Now, those wanting to avoid spoilers from the ending should turn back at this point, as one can't really review the movie without attempting to dissect this very confusing sequence. Keeping the above things in mind, one should recall that it was shown near the end of the first film that Mimiko had the ability to possess the bodies of her victims, which she did with Yumi. For this film she attempts the trick again, this time killing Kyoko and taking over her body. Of course this raises a couple of problems, like that her corpse is apparently still in the mine even though Mimiko is supposed to be running around with it, which was done simply so the police could have the dramatic line about “do you know both of the bodies?” to Kyoko. Ignoring this, though, it would appear that Takako has been doing Mimiko's bidding for the later part of the movie, but was hallucinating so that she only saw what she wanted to, like comforting Yuting when she was in fact killing him. One would assume that Mimiko also did the same thing to Motomiya before he died, which explains how she got a call from the detective late in the movie, even though he was already dead at that point. The final moments of the film are then Takako discovering all of this, seeing the videotape of Yuting being killed with her holding the knife and getting the call that Motomiya was, in fact, dead.

To move away from the story a little, although not to brighter aspects of the film, the acting in the movie is also fairly horrendous from start to finish. In fact, the only halfway decent performance in the film is from Renji Ishibashi as detective Motomiya, a holdover character from the first movie, whose onscreen time is also minimal. The rest of the cast, although often quite attractive, is much less adequate. The two leads, Mimura as Kyoko Okudera and Yu Yoshizawa as Naoto Sakurai, are particularly poor and lack a degree of chemistry together that was needed to make a lot of their scenes work. Asaka Seto, who plays Takako Nozoe, is very cute, one can give her that, but she also gives a pretty bad performance. She just doesn't really seem to be giving much effort to her role, and her sequences with Yuting Chen, played by Peter Ho, make Mimura and Yoshizawa's scenes together seem almost award quality in contrast.

To be fair, though, the actors don't exactly get a lot to work with. While Takashi Miike crafted credible college students as his main characters, the sequel is left with mostly shallow and unbelievable protagonists in their place. The early sequences with the characters, before the new string of deaths start to occur, are kind of nice to see for their interactions with one another, but these sequences are very limited as the killings pick up almost immediately. Once this starts to occur, the movie introduces one more main character in the form of detective Takako, who has been working with Motomiya to try and discover the truth behind the murders. Unfortunately, the movie skimps on trying to better develop this cast or give the audience any particular reason to care for them. This ends up being particularly fatal for the “romantic” sequences between Kyoko Okudera and Naoto Sakurai as they tend to ring hollow with the viewer and create for a fairly awkward viewing experience. The movie does provide a very minimal back-story for Takako, where her twin sister was killed while they were children after picking up a pay phone call and, presumably, being murdered by whoever was on the other line that night. Does this event have any connection to the ones in this film? No, and the film makes the point to stress this again and again to the degree where one just wants to proclaim: “look, we get it, unless there is actually a connection that's going to later be uncovered (and there isn't), there is no need to continuously stress how these aren't related.” Clearly this is just intended to give Takako some motivation as to why she should be as dedicated to this case as she is, but the frequency that the writing feels vindicated to mention it just smacks of writer Daira himself feeling that it's a fairly weak character device. Some of the more broad stereotypes in the genre are also in full force here, and one will be hard pressed not to laugh when the trio of main characters say “Let's Split (up)” and, not much later, “Wait here.”

As for the music, composed by Koji Endo, it's mostly unnoticeable and a viewer will be pretty stressed to recall even a single theme from the film, or even if there was background music at all, when the picture comes to an end. Other productions values fare a little better, though, with the special effects being fairly good, minus Madoka's “twisting” death sequence which is a fairly inadequate reproduction of a similar murder in the first. The Taiwan location stuff is also nice to see, as it spices things up a little, along with the fairly creepy set design for Mimiko's step father's house, with all of the knives hanging from the ceiling.

Overall, One Missed Call 2 is hardly a horrible entry in the Japanese horror genre; in fact, it would have had potential as a stand-alone movie about Li Li and her victims. However, the film just doesn't work as a legitimate sequel to the first film, as it seems to spit on the events of its predecessor at every turn while also digging itself a five-foot grave based on the plot holes produced from trying to connect the two. One can only hope that the third movie in the series fits into the overall storyline better, although the new writing team certainly has their work cut out for them after the plot in this film.