One Missed Call punches the contemporary fear buttons of infernal technology and child abuse. But, toredial applicable catchphrases, this garbled American remake of Takashi Miike's already staticky 2004 exercise in J-horror is a wrong number. The bad machine is the ubiquitous cell phone, specifically ones that herald death by recording the sounds of each recipient's demise from the future. And the child-abuse subplot involves an all-purpose blend of bad mommy and demon child archetypes, souped up with the wandering-ghost consequences so beloved in Japanese popular culture, and a touch of dialing from beyond the grave.
You've got to deliver a lot more than a customized ringtone to impress the iPhone generation, or to scare anyone familiar with the old glimpsed-human-who-morphs-into-ghoul routine a demand that defeats French director Eric Valette. (This is his first American production.) Shannyn Sossamon plays the Pretty Girl Who Survives with a minimum of particularity; Ed Burns offers even less as the Cop Who Believes Her. As the cop who doesn't, the comic Margaret Cho shows up for a line or two and her on-set experience should make for another good monologue someday, considering the riffs she's done about answering-machine messages from her own very unghostly mother. D