Director – Norio Tsuruta
Cast – Hiroshi Mikami, Noriko Sakai, Maki Horikita, Mayumi Ono
Release Year – 2004
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I first became familiar with Japanese horror director Norio Tsurata(Ringu 0: Basudei) when he appeared on the “Masters of Horror” TV series, and while I was not overly impressed with his entry, “Dream Cruise”, I could tell that the guy had talent and made it a requirement to check out Premonition, his most popular film to date. Pre-dating the messy Sandra Bullock starring drama of the same title that debuted in 2007, Premonition gives us an element that most are aware of but have not seen used very much in the genre. Sadly, this idea came with a simple plot that did little to move beyond the scope of a few characters, and only delivered a few good spooks.
When his 5 year old daughter dies in the same fashion as listed in a newspaper that printed the day before her death, Professor Hideki Satomi suffers extreme emotional trauma over the event, souring his relationship with his wife as well. Three years later, Hideki is still suffering the events that took his daughter’s life, but comes across his former wife who is now researching the paranormal events surrounding a newspaper believed to make evil predictions resulting in many deaths. As Hideki uses this to try and fix what happened in the past, he is forced to fix his wife’s future death, resulting in a living hell in which he must now save himself.
Despite learning my lesson numerous times going into a film with high expectations just because many other people enjoy it, I fell victim once again(regardless, high expectations feel great) and left Premonition feeling a bit disappointed. This is by no means a bad film, I just expected it to be a superb watch and it was not.
The storyline following the husband and wife who lost their daughter was nothing overly special, although I did find it pretty cool that the husband, Hideki, failed to convince nor prove to his wife that he had seen their daughter’s obituary in the newspaper moments before her heinous death because this made the idea of the mother, Ayaka, working on the paranormal events surrounding the newspaper all-the-more interesting. Personally, I did not enjoy that this storyline only involved Hideki and Ayaka. This is by no means a real complaint, I just feel that had more characters been involved in would have 1. resulted in more deaths, and 2. helped move the story at a more engaging pace. For a 96 minute film I felt the storyline dragged a bit at times, and the film’s lack of characters could have had something to do with that. Surprisingly, this being an Asian film centering on a supernatural-esque phenomena I was expecting this to be a confusing and hard-to-follow film, but that was never the case thanks to a simple story.
Norio Tsurata’s direction was mostly positive, and he delivered the film with high quality visuals and sets. I was surprised at how brash the horror was at times, and appreciated it tremendously given how slow the film was moving. The daughter’s death was very frontal in how it was shot, and is sure to make the squeamish turn their head during the hard-hitting scene. We get some other good horrific scenes here and there, and they were so well-executed from Tsurata that I was left wanting more of the “goods”…but more “goods” never came.
Overall, this is a mostly-positive but slow-moving film that could have been much better had its storyline not held it back. Despite this, the story gives us a seldom-used element that comes with Tsurata’s well-executed chills, but just not enough of them.