Okay, I can’t resist. If you plan on seeing this and prefer to discover things for yourself, I encourage you to read no further and perhaps come back to this after you’ve made up your own mind.
This narrative consists of three dueling (tri-ueling?) layers which, at least in the current film, seem to unsuccessfully clash which each other. First, you have the layer consisting of the high school class (on a trip, yada yada) and a bullied, deceased student (Pamu) who wishes revenge. The dynamic of this narratival layer in and of itself could easily support a very decent horror tale of this variety. The only problem with such a simple plan is that it would not fit into the Chakushin Ari franchise and title.
So the second narratival layer is put in place involving not only the phone (through which the curse/malevolence is transmitted) but also Mimiko, the formerly-abused-but-now-ghastly-little-girl from the original film (but not the Taiwanese formerly-abused-but-now-ghastly-little-girl from the second sequel. That’s a different formerly-abused-but-now-ghastly-little-girl!). I understand the marketing necessity of sticking with the “One Missed Call” brand. But what exactly is the connection between Pamu and Mimiko? It is explicitly clear from the storyline that Pamu hangs herself, not due to anything involving a “phone curse” but purely out of deep despair spawned by the bullying from her classmates. So why does Mimiko suddenly show up? Simply because Pamu is angry and owns a cell phone? This is the only reason I can deduce. The narrative remains silent on this point and apparently expects the audience to do the heavy lifting here. Yes, there is the traditional notion that malignant spirits are often merely hovering about waiting for human hate and fear to emerge as a means for them to disrupt lives. (For example, see the recently reviewed Kokkuri.) But doesn’t that simply amount to the sheer coincidence that Mimiko was hovering around Pamu at the moment of her death? I don’t get it.
But wait! There’s more. Director Manabu decides to add a third layer which is not only wholly unnecessary but also shows a complete ignorance regarding what he is depicting. From the prior films we know that the transmission of these curses uses cell phones. Okay, I can grant that. Its not any less plausible (??) than curse transmission via the internet (Kairo/Pulse), VHS (or Beta?? Ringu), TV broadcast waves (Dead Waves), or even cassette tapes (The Cursed Cassette Tape). In fact, I might be so brave as to suggest that the primary premise of the “One Missed Call” franchise involves phones (Skype included!).
Isn’t the “phone” angle good enough? Brave enough? As a storyteller would’t that be difficult enough for anyone who wishes to remain plausible? Apparently not. In the final act of the film, it is determined (out of the blue) that rather than the phone, Malevolent Mimiko’s primary abode is the internet (too?). Why this shift? Only Hell and Manabu know. But when Manabu attempts to depict and resolve his “creative departure” from the franchise storyline, he lands us in sheer incredulity.
Internet aficionados brace yourself. Here’s the set-up: Devilish Mimiko, who heretofore has been using cell phones, suddenly migrates to the internet, whereby she manipulates Asuka’s computer. According to the “InterTubal Manual of Spiritiual [Dis]Position” (okay, I made that up), this obviously means that Mimiko is somehow confined to and contained within Asuka’s computer. (???) The proposed solution is to destroy the PC. The only hitch is that everyone is in Korea, so they enlist the help of web-surfing strangers to attack the PC using… (drum roll please) EMAIL. That’s right! Email with messages such as “We shall not be overcome!” and “Die! You Ghoulish Little Girl inhabiting that Japanese girl’s PC!” and “pr0n rulz!”. (Okay, I made that last one up).
Maybe this is too geeky a point, but anyone who knows anything about computers and the internet understands how absurd this premise is. You cannot kill someone’s home computer by sending them lots and lots of email. Its simply not going to work, much less cause the computer to literally explode in a huge ball of flames like it does here. In any event, to bypass this doom, all little ghoulie Mimiko would need is a decent Spam filter. Then she could appear in another, fourth film where she haunts one of those cutting edge internet-enabled refrigerators. Then they could freeze her in an ice cube and ship her off to the North Pole. Hell in a Snowball.
Version reviewed: Region 2 DVD (no subtitles)