One Missed Call 2 (2005)

Class: User
Author: Pat Atwell
Score: (3/5)
November 29, 2008 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

One Missed Call 2 is the kind of movie that's disappointing and awesome at the same time. There have been plenty of negative reviews, be it on horror sites or here at Toho Kingdom. This won't be one of those negative ones, not quite. Although the movie is inferior to the original, it's hard to live up to the first.

The movie's opening is one of its high points. On a gray, rainy afternoon, the kids are dismissed from daycare. Once they leave, two teachers discuss plans to go out that night, although one of them is reluctant. The reluctant teacher stays behind as the other leaves. As she applies a contact lens, she is startled by one remaining pupil. She tells her teacher that when it rains, the spirits of the dead pour down to Earth. Though the teacher calls the girl Rika, it's plain to see that it is, in fact, little Nanako Mizunuma from the first film.

A woman in white with an umbrella covering her head of long, black hair and hiding her face walks into view. We make the connection right away: it's the ghost of Marie Mizunuma, still looking out for her good daughter. She doesn't say a word, but as she walks away with her daughter, Nanako turns around and waves goodbye to someone who doesn't seem to be there. In the ever-pouring rain, the red swing in the playground begins to sway by itself.

The opening is beautifully shot, incredibly atmospheric, and softly powerful. Nothing much is said; we don't know why Nanako is being called Rika, presumably it's some sort of witness protection. We are never explicitly told it even is Nanako or Marie, we determine it for ourselves. And we are never told who she was saying goodbye to, but are left with the haunting, startling impression that just as Marie is still with Nanako, so is her cruel sister Mimiko.

It's a wonderful prologue that, if it had truly set the tone for the film, would have heralded an excellent piece of horror and suspense that may even have surpassed the original. However, it was not to be.

Nanako and Marie disappear for the rest of the film, and the focus shifts to the two teachers out at the restaurant. This just happens to be the restaurant where the shy girl Kyoko's boyfriend works. The restaurant owner, working in the kitchen, hears an eerie ringtone coming from his daughter's cell phone. Thinking it's her deadbeat boyfriend, he answers, only to hear his daughter's voice talking about not leaving oil on the stove for too long. A clank. A spill. A sizzle and a scream, and the message ends.

A shadow stands behind the sliding door to the kitchen. A hand pulls the creaking door open with great effort. It's his daughter, alive and well. But when he asks her about the call, she explains that she'd never made it.

Back at the teacher's table, Kyoko and her bubbly friend Madoka are chatting when the restaurant owner's daughter sits down with them to show off her new cell phone - the same one from which her father had received the bizzare call. Madoka is impressed and exchanges numbers with her. Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Kyoko's boyfriend, the waiter, is looking for the owner. He calls into the darkness, yet receives no reply. All is nearly silent until Madoka's phone rings with an eerie, familiar tune. When he turns around, the waiter discovers the dead body of the owner, his face boiled in a pan of cooking oil.

At the scene of the death, the cop from the first film is inspecting the body. There is no red ball of candy in the owner's mouth. Outside, he is confronted by a reporter asking about the victim. She is Takako, and is also amazed to learn about the absence of candy.

As the deaths continue and Takako investigates, it becomes increasingly clear that Mimiko was never the origin of the curse, but just a different branch of a Taiwanese one. So the newly cursed Kyoko, the curious Takako, and Kyoko's dedicated boyfriend Naoto travel to Taiwan in an attempt to solve the entire mystery of the curse - and save Kyoko's life.

I'm going to get the negatives out of the way. Firstly, the acting is largely below average. Asaka Seto as Takako is generally pretty good; however, Mimura as Kyoko and Yu Yoshizawa as Naoto overact furiously. Their strained screams and bizarre facial contortions would be right at home in a stage play, but on film it often looks silly. Nobody in the film is ever as believable as Kou Shibasaki was in the original. Also, the visual style is rather generic, a far cry from the moody cinematography that graced Miike's film. The sole exception to this is the opening, which almost seems as if it was led by an entirely different director and cinematographer. Finally, the structure of the film is awkward. At first it's a rapidly-paced thriller, but after the first 20 minutes it dilutes into a slow moving drama/mystery. There are a few scares thrown into the middle act, but not enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. When the film returns to a more horrorific atmosphere in the finale, you aren't quite as revved for the scares in the mine. There are a few excellent jump scares, but once you've lost the expectation of scary things happening, the suspense disappears.

That said, the movie's not a total loss. There are a few very scary scenes, if you can accept that most of them are just quick jolts. The little ghost girls (yes, there's more than one) are suitably creepy. And the ending, despite what you may have heard elsewhere, is brilliant. It's one of those Sixth Sense type endings where once you find it out, you won't be able to believe you didn't see it coming. Unlike the main review on the site, I'm not going to give it away. But keep in mind that multiple viewings (and possibly a trip to the deleted scenes) may be necessary to fully "get it". And even then, there are parts open to interpretation. There is nothing contradictory, just things left for you to ponder.

It should be understood that this is certainly an inferior film to the original, and not a classic by any means. What we have is a strictly average J-Horror. Though a little slow in the middle, it's sandwiched by an excellent opening and finale. If you like twist endings (and are willing to work for them), give this film a viewing. Also, if you loved the original (like I did) or just want to get a little scared, those are superb reasons to give this movie a chance as well. Just don't expect the quality of "Part One".