Ah, January releases. When the stuff the studios figured wasn't strong enough to need a December release for Oscar consideration, but they want to dust something off the shelf just to say they had a release that week. And without further ado, meet "One Missed Call."
College girl Shelley gets a weird call, checks on her cat near the backyard pond, then she's pulled to her death by drowning in it (Hey, not a spoiler -- it's in the first 3 minutes; just to get it out of the way, she's not the last... sinister music plays ominously in the background). As her phone's address book begins scrolling, you better believe the victim list will all be acquainted. (Not sure why it wasn't alphabetically sorted, but I'm no expert.)
On the day of her funeral, Leann gets a call, misses it and it goes to voicemail, of Leann's screaming last moments -- at the date and time when the call says it came in (days in the future). Clever lead girl Beth is just moments too late to prevent her from her own plunge to her demise, but the cops think Beth is nuts. Except copper Jack, whose psych nurse sister was just found murdered, apparently from a fall along a hiking trail. (Jack found a piece of red hard candy in her mouth.)
Jack apparently is a really good cop, and figures his sister's death, and the death of two other women, cannot be anything other than the stuff great mystery and adventure is made of, so he waits for her to leave, runs after her and grabs her, y'know to talk. (Only because saying in best Columbo voice, "Oh, there's just one other thing..." without grabbing her on the streets.)
Yes, I have come comments along the way. Beth battles her own demons of being an abused child, a topic that seems to have been tossed in only so they'd have a convenient tie-in to the catatonic blonde little girl at the scene of a hospital fire. Oh, and let's not forget her fear of looking through door peep holes (a factor that's explained more halfway through, then seems a pretty good cause of caution down the road).
The red candy is convenient in letting the slow folks in the audience sort out the victims were all the result of our Death Caller. And if you catch the more subtle explanation, Lt. Columbo, er, cop Jack, manages to even figure out that clue, though somewhat as an after-thought by that point.
A great little stab (as it were) at thriller film, but not too many surprises. It's PG-13, after all, so not a lot of ick and gross, either. To that end, a little bummed that school doesn't go back in session until Monday, as there was the annoyingly vast shrill screams of overly dramatic 12-year-olds trying to pass for suave 15-year-old films desperately trying to pass as scared.
There's a number of pretty great films in theatres right now, but if you've seen them already, then "One Missed Call" may be worth a go. It's by no means at the bottom of the heap, so I'd certainly rank it on the 'to-see' list before "Dewey Cox."
The peril, you will be pleased to know, seems limited to those carrying Boost Mobile pre-paid cell phones, too. So unless you're carrying one of those, you've nothing to fear. (Not even a big bill at the end of the month -- thank goodness for prepaid.)