End Call (2008):One Hell of a Phone Bill

Kiyoshi Yamamoto (who is perhaps better known as the cinematics director for the video game Dragon’s Dogma) directs this low budget horror film as a languid and lackadaisical urban myth in treacle.

The film starts with a group of four friends talking about a “special” phone number. If you call the number on your mobile phone the devil will grant you a wish. The only price you pay is that the amount of time that the phone call takes is deducted from your life. It sounds too good to be true.

And it isn’t.

The real price comes before the end of your life. Each girl gets a mobile phone bill that runs around 15 thousand pounds. None of them can pay this exorbitant fee and one of them (Mako) starts working in the sex industry to earn the money.

Mako’s boyfriend Sakamoto has found out that she is working in the industry and asks best friend Dijimo and Mako’s friend Mai to find out why. Mako is at work when she is told that she needs to see one more client before her shift ends. She goes down to the room and finds it is her lecherous teacher Jojima (who likes to fondle his female students and give them his website details) and she is horrified.

Jojima attempts to blackmail her into servicing him and she kicks him in the crotch and runs out. Later Mai meets her in a public toilet to give her a jacket. Mai asks about the huge phone bill and Mako says that Mai can’t understand; her family is well-off and Mako has to degrade herself to pay the bill.

Teacher Jojimo drooling over Ryoko.

Tragically, the reason for the phone call was that Mako wanted Sakamoto as a boyfriend, now that he has found out what is going on, he leaves. Mai never hears from Mako again and she is terrified that Dojimo will find out  she used the number to get him as her boyfriend.

Out of the group of five friends, one (Mako) disappears and another (Ryoko) kills herself after her boyfriend leaves her to date Mai. Mai has also got a huge phone bill and Ryoko’s boyfriend as a result of her phone call. Mai tell Dojimo about the phone number and the resulting big bill, but not about her phone call or wish.

Urukawa is the first of the group to use the number and she asks for freedom, which she gets, but not how she wants it. After an argument with Mai, she goes to the library to research this number. She bumps into Dojimo and they look together. He finds an old newspaper article saying that this same thing happened ten years ago.

All the girls who called this number died; either by suicide or illness and accidents. He says it sounds like an urban legend. He also finds out that the same thing happened again ten years later; each time 10 people die after ringing the number.

The movie ends with a twist, but by the time you get there, you might get confused.

The film is patchy and despite the promise of the story; the low-budget, poor acting and spotty continuity detracts from the impact of the film. The sound, especially the ADR, is very poorly done; as though the dialogue has been dubbed.

I’ve watched the film twice now (both times on Netflix) and I understood better the second time around what was really going on. It is an interesting film and worth a look, but it is nothing to write home about. It obviously did not make a big splash when it was released in 2008 as IMDb has only the absolute minimum of information about it on the site.

Not surprising considering the amount of things that are wrong with the film. If your attention wanders for even a minute, you will lose track of what is going on. There is not enough action to keep you glued to the events on-screen and the pay-off is minimal at the end. It would have been interesting to see what a difference a bigger budget would have made to the film.

End Call is not the best example of J-horror out there but, nonetheless, it is hard to stop watching it. More of a curiosity than a truly scary film the basic plot is more interesting than the overall presentation.

I will say this though, if there was such a number to call? You’d wind up paying one hell of a phone bill.

Urukawa daydreaming of how much better the film would be with a bigger budget.

All God’s Chillun Gots Phones

It just suddenly occurred to me this morning that everybody (and I mean everybody) has got a cell phone (or mobile phone if you’re English or European). Not only that, but, a good portion of these people have got an iPhone. If they do not have an iPhone, they have some other form of touch screen phone that uses the Android operating system.

I do not have either an iPhone or an Android operated touch screen phone. But I do have a mobile phone, a BlackBerry if you must know (and if you follow my blog you do know because I did a post about it) and as I said in my previous post, it’s almost too much phone for me to handle.

But here’s the interesting (or possibly disturbing) bit. Did you know that when you take a picture with your iPhone and upload via Instagram that the picture is automatically “marked” with a location code? This code is a boon to stalkers, cyber and otherwise. In essence where you take your photos is where you are. Easy to track and find.

And after checking just now, I’ve learned that Android pictures that are uploaded to the net also have the location of the picture. I also found out that you can turn off the location code part of your pictures on both operating systems.

On another track, most phones have GPS capability. I know I’ve used mine to get directions from where I am at the time. Just another great little device that also allows anyone like say a stalker find out where you are; or more helpfully the police if you are lost or missing.

In case you were trying to find me, I’m right here…

There are other ways for people to find out where you are though besides the location codes on your uploaded pictures; applications like foursquare, for example, allow you to Tweet where you are at that particular moment. If your stalker (sorry I mean friends) miss you at your current location they at least know that you frequent the place and have a good chance of catching you there (pun intended).

I seem to have a real “bug in my ear” about these modern-day communication devices that everyone seems to need. Oh and while I am on about the communication aspect of mobile phones, I’ll just mention how easy it is for a third-party to listen to your calls. I used the word party as a reference to the old “party” lines that the phone companies used in the old days. A party line meant you shared your landline with a group of other folks who could listen in on your phone calls, just like the mobile phone. Sorry, I know I’ve mentioned that twice now.

It’s no wonder that I feel like it is still 1984 and big brother is not only watching but the nosey bugger is listening as well. Modern technology is pretty great, but it is also intrusive. Not only that, but I am sure that the government likes being able to know where you are and what you are saying. Terrorist plots aside, these guys must know the best gossip about everyone who is someone.

The thing that amazes me more than the ability to find and listen to you while you have this mobile communication device on your body is the “about-face” on the “safety” of mobile phones.

A scant 10 years ago, scientists were warning about the “overuse” of mobile phones. They went on record stating that the things emitted too much radiation to be healthy (especially for the young and the elderly) and that they were basically cancerous tumours just waiting to happen. Not only that, but they were bad for your ears.

Now I don’t remember exactly but I am pretty sure the tumours were not ear related but brain related and all the information they trotted out was pretty scary. It was scary enough that I remember warning my then young daughter about using the thing too much.

But wait a minute; no one is talking about how hazardous the mobile phone is any longer.  It seems that all those tumours and ear damage have disappeared. I could not figure out why until I had a major epiphany while writing this post.

Now that's not scary...much.
Now that’s not scary…much.

People do not talk on their mobile phones nearly as much as they text on them.

Presumably that is why the scare mongering over the health threatening mobile phone has diminished. Not because the government want to keep tabs on us. (Even though we know that they really do) It is because that scant 10 years ago, the prophetic scientists could not know that texting would bypass talking on these “dangerous” devices.

I have yet to hear of one person who has gotten a life threatening tumour on their index finger from prolonged texting.

So the mobile phone continues to be a necessity for everyone over the age of 7? Presumably it is because I have seen children that young (and younger) talking on one and carrying it about; again one of the handier aspects of the GPS thing. I am sure that these young consumers even text on their mobiles, the spelling should not present a problem since texting does not require one to spell correctly.

Sorry, I really do need to wind this post up soon or it will cease being a pithy comment on mobile phones and their ubiquitous existence in today’s society and more of a paranoiac rant on stalkers and the government keeping tabs on the world’s citizens.

Besides, I need to get my Blackberry instruction book back out; I can’t seem to get foursquare to work on it properly and my Twitter has lost its link and my Facebook app won’t delete my updates. I also need to take a couple of pictures with my camera and sort out the video camera as well. And while I am at it, I may just type a new blog post on my WordPress application…

Oh no! The keys are too damn small!