Running Time: 105'
Mimula, Yu Yoshizawa, Asaka Seto, Renji Ishibashi
GHOUL RATING: **(*) 3-
Story: The familiar cell-phone ring announces a different ghost in this sequel. Kyoko (Mimula) has three days to unravel the secret behind the curse, or to die trying. She is helped by her boyfriend, and a female journalist whose sister was killed by the same (or is it?) cell-phone haunting, death-foretelling ghost. Ultimately, they are led to Taiwan, to a deserted mining village where a young girl was tortured and killed in the mine, only to leave a terrible grudge behind her…
Review: The movie opens with a fine scene: it's raining, and a spooky black-haired woman, dressed in white, her face obscured by the umbrella, comes to pick up a little girl from the kindergarten. The little girl greets her teacher, and someone else next to her. But no one is standing there. She goes with the woman, leaving the teacher puzzled… Pity that none of this prologue has anything to do with ONE MISSED CALL 2. The story proper starts with a similar scene like in the original: a group of young people are sitting in a restaurant, when that well-known cell-phone melody starts again. This time, however, the film breaks one of the basic rules established in part one. The phone is left in the kitchen, and is picked up by the owner's father. He hears his daughter making a remark about leaving the oil on the stove, and then screaming. Only minutes later he will be found with half of his face literally poached in oil. All this is fine, but whatever happened with the basic rule of the phone-owner being the next victim, and warning him/herself from the future? What about the three days' period between the omen and its fulfillment?
ONE MISSED CALL 2 takes such rules pretty haphazardly: sometimes they apply, sometimes they don't. Who cares, as long as anything spooky happens, right? Well, not really. One of the many qualities of RINGU, the unattainable blue-print for most of later Asian ghost-horrors, is that it establishes its rules early in the film, and plays upon them consistently until the end, with no cheats, no forced twists and eleventh-hour's changes of plan for the sake of adding yet another superficial 'boo!' But, ONE MISSED CALL 2 is pretty far from RINGU. Hell, it's far even from Miike's ONE MISSED CALL! While many accused the Master for making a 'derivative' film, unworthy of his status of a groundbreaking, unpredictable purveyor of hilarity, frights and gruesome images, at least his ONE MISSED CALL was scary, dynamic and full of memorable images and set-pieces. The sequel by the TV helmer, Renpei Tsukamoto (not related to Shinya!), is a typical by-the-numbers retread of been-there done-that.
The worst attempt at 'originality' is at the same time the most misguided step-away from the original: namely, the ghostly perpetrator of cell-phone haunting is no longer Mimiko, but some entirely new girl creature. As the story goes on, the link to the previous film, and the whole cell-phone thing, becomes increasingly tenuous so that, after the half-hour mark, it's almost entirely forgotten. The whole affair seems like one of those instances where an unrelated screenplay is forcefully made to fit a franchise by inserting random elements from it which never properly gel into a coherent whole (see the later parts of HELLRAISER series as text-book examples of this strategy).
To sum up: no Mimiko, no warnings to self from the future, no colorful death scenes (OK, there is ONE, in the bathroom, and that's it for the whole movie!), no jawbreaker candies (until the forced twist ending)… So what do we have here? A tired, worn out story of yet another investigation which leads to yet another mistreated girl who avenges from beyond the grave. Because of her scary premonitions, the villagers of her Taiwan community sewed her lips shut, and left her tied to a chair in an abandoned mine. There are at least TWO plot points here which resemble RINGU, and yes – there IS a scene in which the girl slowly, one hand at a time, creeps out from a well. Only minutes later another broken apparition crawls down the stairs for all those of you who somehow missed the JU-ON / GRUDGE series. Bo-ring! The final half-hour gives its best to achieve an over-the-top horror-action finale like in Miike's original, but fails miserably. It's just too incoherent, too 'anything goes' to make us care for any actor from the stupidly separated trio which roam the abandoned mine. Even the 'tragic-romantic' ending is half-hearted (or is it half-assed?) since the characters were never real in the first place.
Make no mistake: ONE MISSED CALL 2 is a tolerable, watchable time-waster which can be recommended for die-hard fans of J-horror. There are some moderate scares, or at least solid attempts to create them (although very few in the overlong mid-section which begs for fast-forwarding!), so indiscriminate viewers can be satisfied for the time being. But there's nothing in this particular film to stay with you and haunt you, say, a week or two later. As the time passes, all that'll remain is a ghostly blur which merges with all those other would-be-spooky Asian horrors trying to cash in on the ghost-craze. If you care for originality, good frights, and movies which respect your intelligence, this is a call you can afford to miss.