Less than a year after the previous entry, Manabu Asô was tasked with providing a follow-up entry to the One Missed Call franchise that would close the trilogy in fine form before the American remake would arrive two years after this last Japanese installment. Offering a new take on the franchise that still stays true to its J-horror roots, the film is included in the trilogy box-set released on February 25 from Arrow Video.
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After going on a school trip, Japanese students Emiri (Meisa Kuroki), Hideki (Kenichi Okana), Hiroyuki (Ryû Morioka), Minori (Erika Asakura), Mari (Yû Kamiwaki) and Shinichi (Rakuto Tochihara) decide to pass the time telling stories to entertain themselves before landing in South Korea. One such tale involves a legend about friends receiving phone-calls of themselves dying just days before their deaths, and despite laughing it off as an urban legend, upon arriving in the country they find themselves under attack by the same fate. Trying to find the cause of the situation, they come across ousted student Asuka (Maki Horikita) who seems to be the mastermind behind the fateful calls as a vicious ghost carries out her handiwork killing off the students one-by-one. Realizing the connection between everything, they race to stop the spread of the curse before more of their class is killed.
Overall, “One Missed Call 3” does a solid job of ending the franchise on a high note. As has been the case previously, there’s plenty of thrills from the ghostly exploits and interactions. The initial discovery of the cursed photos on their phone showing them looking over photos taken of themselves hung up provides a great starting part to the creepiness that follows their trip. As the students start slowly disappearing during their trip, there’s some fun to be had with the discovery of their bodies being found in similar situations to the calls they received earlier, making the prophecy self-fulfilling in creepy manners. From the lavish deaths that arise from being out in public that look like accidents, to the more over-the-top encounters with the ghost providing more brutal deaths, this one gets a lot to like before featuring plenty of stellar chasing and frightening encounters at the end, where everything comes together in a fine, satisfying conclusion.
As well, “One Missed Call 3” manages to do a lot of great work tying the franchise together. Writers Minako Daira and Jiro Shin get a lot of enjoyable elements involving the curse carryover from Japan to Korea with the discovery of the origin of the original curse, featuring Emiri’s investigation into the original incident that started the curse and how it managed to spread. Learning about the connection Asuka had with the group and how they treated her provides a fine jumping-off point that later informs the rest of Emiri’s investigation into the source of the curse plaguing the students. Realizing that the way they treated and bullied her while Asuka was a student with them provides the launching point to putting the curse on the students while she watches over everything from her computer. The phone calls to Emiri setting the basis for why it’s happening that fills in that aspect of the storyline complete the picture nicely and give a rather enjoyable sense of closure and finality with the way they lead into each other. Overall, these elements make for an enjoyable enough time.
While “One Missed Call 3” has a lot to like, there are a few flaws here. The main issue with the film is the usual problem associated with the series as far too much time in the middle section is taken up with investigations into the mystery. The slowly-dwindling class realizing they’re part of the curse and looking around at the source of who’s calling them tends to drop all of the suspense and tension. Attempts to enhance the pacing with infighting and arguing over who’s a true friend that would help them comes at the expense of the ghostly action which drags the film out longer than it needs to be. As well, there are some issues to be had with the lack of attention the ghost really has as this one features the threat of Asuka calling on the phone as the primary source of their fear instead. This is somewhat odd when the threat should come from the ghost about to kill them. Still, these issues really aren’t that detrimental overall.
Despite having a few brief hiccups that really aren’t that detrimental, “One Missed Call 3” manages more than enough positive aspects with a great story and some great ghostly action that overcome those few hiccups. If you’ve made it this far in the franchise it won’t be too daunting to give this entry a watch or for fans of J-horror entries in particular who will like this one like the others in the series.