With prices for cinema tickets now reaching ridiculous heights it’s not often I will treat myself to a new release unless it’s something I simply cannot wait for. Instead, I’m happy to content myself with a cheap DVD or a film on TV which may have slipped through my critical net and, believe me, there have been far too many. Whether the films featured here are recent or old I’ll still be providing my honest opinion on them and, with the benefit of hindsight in many cases, may offer a slightly different take to contemporary reviewers.
I’m sure many of us wish we could look into our futures and see how the events in our lives unfold. I’m also certain that most would want to change some of these revelations to shape a better future for themselves. In Norio Tsuruta’s Premonition depictions of the future are paramount but with them come the chance to change the events but at a great cost.
The film begins with Ayaka (Noriko Sakai) driving her husband Hideki (Hiroshi Mikami) and daughter Nana (Hana Inoue) home from a visit to grandparents. Hideki, a college professor, is too absorbed in his work to join in the fun of the drive home but working on his laptop he suddenly needs to email some important documents. Stopping at a payphone to upload some files for work Hideki finds a newspaper article with a headline about a truck crashing into a parked car with both the truck driver and a young girl in the car killed. Hideki is stunned to see the little girl is Nana and that the accident happened at 8.00! Confused by these events he notices Ayaka trying to help undo Nana’s seatbelt before checking his watch and seeing it is now 8.00! As predicted a truck duly arrives, crashing into the car. Though Nana isn’t killed on impact she dies when the car explodes before her parents can save her. The film then moves on three years where Hideki and Ayaka are divorced, his previous insistence about the newspaper article dismissed by everyone, including his now ex-wife. However, Ayaka is in contact with a psychic and investigating the Newspaper of Terror, headlines foretelling future events, while Hideki is haunted by the past. Hideki begins to see similar visions predicting the future and as they begin to impact on people he knows, Hideki is left wondering if he can change these events.
Premonition comes from the creators of The Ring, The Grudge and Dark Water and retains their atmospheric essence. While Hideki continues through life trying to forget the foretelling newspapers, Ayaka is hot on the trail of others who can see the future. Predictions of murders, train crashes and other disasters are frightening prospects for the couple but the real horror in Premonition comes from those who try to intervene and change the destinies of future victims. In one scene Hideki is fruitlessly trying to teach a class of talkative, distracted students, reading passages from a book and being seemingly lost in the pages. Hideki is suddenly distracted by one student who is looking up at the ceiling but when he next glances her way she is staring directly at him! In a later conversation Hideki discovers she has seen the newspaper headlines foreseeing the future and warns him that you cannot interfere with fate. Hideki tries to change the future when a later newspaper reveals this student will be the latest of a string of stab victims but Hideki’s efforts fail.
Hideki and Ayaka are eventually reunited and begin investigating this phenomenon together. Their research leads them to uncover a group of individuals that have suffered due to their prophetic visions. One victim was put in an institution aged just 13 but six months later had aged to the equivalent of a 70 year old! The patient’s room is filled with writing predicting many disasters with the ink for the words being the victim’s blood which eventually leads to their death. The most frightening victim in Premonition is Rei Kagata (Kei Yamamoto) whose home Hideki and Ayaka find deserted and covered in dust though they do discover videotapes Rei recorded of himself. In the earliest tapes he speaks of his visions and how he contacted a family who were going to die in an explosion. His warning paid off and the newspapers had no mention of an explosion but Rei develops strange gray marks on his arms in the aftermath. I won’t reveal what happens to him after that but let’s just say it’s not pleasant! Warnings appear for Hideki and Ayaka to not interfere with destiny but when Hideki sees a vision of Ayaka’s death in a train crash he has to decide whether to accept it or to challenge fate.
Premonition is tense and intriguing throughout despite being a little plodding in places. There were some unnerving moments particularly in the latter stages where Hideki sees a series of ghosts including his daughter and each spirit appears in the same fashion as the ghosts in An American Werewolf in London, bearing the lacerations, burns and other insignia that led to their tragic deaths. The concluding segments also play with our minds a little as different time periods and events are revealed in a fascinating montage which will leave you questioning what is real. Rather poignantly Hideki returns to the scene of his daughter’s death but what happens from there I cannot say, unless one of you happens to have one of the chilling newspaper articles and can see the future!
Premonition is an effective horror film which has a steady pace after opening with a car accident. It quickly gathers momentum though and will keep you guessing how far Hideki will go to challenge the future and try to save his ex-wife, having failed to prevent the death of his daughter. This is a good example of why it’s probably best we don’t know what the future holds.
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