Premonition (2004)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Norio Tsuruta Norio Tsuruta
Hiroshi Mikami Hiroshi Mikami
Noriko Sakai Noriko Sakai
Maki Horikita Maki Horikita
Mayumi Ono Mayumi Ono
Hana Inoue Hana Inoue

6.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Horror, Psychological Thriller, Supernatural Horror
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Review by Chad
Added: July 14, 2005
Starting this J-Horror entry out, we see husband Hideki (Hiroshi Mikami), wife Ayaka (Noriko Sakai), and daughter Nana Satomi (Hana Inoue) traveling home from a visit with Nana's grandparents. Ayaka is driving the car while Hideki works on a project for work from his laptop, but he notices that he can not get a connection to the internet from their current location. Ayaka mentions that there was a phone-booth a few miles back which had a phone-jack on it, and Hideki begs her to turn around so that he can use it. Although she's in a hurry to get home, she reluctantly agrees and Hideki gets cracking on sending in his assignment. While the email is sending, he notices a newspaper clipping sitting inside the booth, so he reaches down to pick it up. What he sees freaks him out... it's an article which says that Nana Satomi was killed in a car accident at 8:00 pm. The problem is that Nana is his daughter, she's still alive, and she's sitting inside the car directly behind him. He looks down at his watch and notices that it's about 7:59 pm, but the shock of seeing this article dulls his reflexes. He can only watch helplessly after a dump-truck comes barreling down the street and plows into his parked car, which causes the car to quickly catch fire and explode with his daughter trapped inside. To make things worse, these premonitions of death keep returning after he's buried his daughter, and he learns about some people who were drove insane by similar events. The movie just gets odder as it progresses, but for fear of spoiling things more than I have already, I'll leave it at that.

Now this is the kind of movie that I like to see, and it has fully restored my faith in the field of Japanese horror after numerous lackluster Ringu and Grudge-inspired entries in the genre. While I can't say that the film was completely original (especially the ending, which borrows a bit from another movie), I can safely say that the vast majority of the running-time was highly enjoyable and a breath of fresh air. The thing that I particularly liked about this film was the complete absence of "boo" scares and musical scores that give away the upcoming scares. The beginning of the movie is a perfect example of this... you know that the car that Nana is sitting in is about to get hit, you sit there waiting for it to happen, and then when it finally does happen, it's a complete shock. This effect is thanks to the aforementioned absence of a score, so there's no musical cue as to what is about to happen or when it will happen. These effects are also heightened due to the unconventional way of story-telling that director Norio Tsuruta uses. Countless times throughout the movie, he sets up scenes which seem to come straight from other movies, or he will build up a scene which would "obviously" end in one particular way. Then, just when you think you've seen this before and know exactly where it's going, he throws something completely unexpected at you and succeeds in pulling a shock or a gasp from the audience. I absolutely loved this style of film, and any movie that can pull a jolt out of me is A-OK in my book.

The second thing that I enjoyed about this movie was the acting abilities. You know how in American movies, good looks are a requirement and actual acting abilities are optional? You readers know the movies I'm talking about. The complete opposite is the norm in most Japanese cinema, and this movie was no exception to that rule. These cast members are amazingly realistic in their roles, and you never once are reminded that they're merely people playing a role. Even the five-year-old daughter (who doesn't look much older than her character's age) turns in a performance that would make most adults living in Hollywood ashamed of their less-than-stellar leading-role performances.

I only had one minor complaint about this film. This complaint is not the fault of the movie-makers at all, but a fault of Lions Gate's American release of the film instead. The subtitle job is pretty bad, and while it's good enough to adequately convey what's going on in each scene, there's a number of sentences and writings that aren't translated for us Americans at all. For example, you'll hear the actor rattling off five-ten seconds worth of speech, but you'll only see a simple "No" in the subtitle box. Again, you never miss out on anything crucial to the storyline (I don't think), but it would have been nice if a better job had been done in this respect.

If you're a fan of Japanese horror and can appreciate how traditional Japanese horror films play out (slow-building and relying more on atmosphere than cheap scares), this would be one to check out. The absence of creepy, long-haired little girls only makes things that much better. 9/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 05/02/2006, 08:01 PM
Amazing movie. Everything that is good about movies, this had. Twisting, weird scenes, a somewhat surprising ending, and great acting.
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