The TV and film versions share the same premise (a message is left on a mobile phone, dated several days in the future and apparently from the person’s own mobile, and the message is a recording of their final seconds) and a scene or two, but other than that, there’s not much similarity.
The film can be split into two halves. The first half is full of jumps and brief scares, while the second half cranks up the tension as the heroin Nakamura Yumi searches through a deserted hospital for clues as to the source of the murders. Director Takashi Miike keeps the shocks coming fast, so there’s little space to recover before the next.
Meanwhile, the TV series had eleven episodes to fill, and so there are more deaths along the way to the ending. It changes the character of Nakamura Yuki from being a student to being a journalist, thus giving us a light-hearted side-story about how badly her career is going.
Comparing the two Yumis: the film version, played by Shibasaki Kou, wins hands down. While there’s nothing wrong with Kukakawa Rei’s performance, it lacks Shibasaki’s screen presence. As for the amount of blood on show, bearing in mind the restrictions of television, the TV version of One Missed Call can get pretty unpleasant. On the other hand, Takashi Miike keeps the gore down to a minimum in the cinematic version.
I enjoyed both, and found them different enough so that one didn’t feel like a pale copy of the other. Also, the two versions have similar endings which mean different things, which impressed me. The film has the performances and production standards to give it the edge. The TV version is more comedic, but not afraid to throw some scares into the mix too. I’m giving this battle to the film version but, perhaps surprisingly, not by much.