Director: Norio Tsuruta
Cast: Hiroshi Mikami, Noriko Sakai, Hana Inoue, Mayumi Ono
It has been a while since I last visited the intriguing world of Japanese horror cinema. Therefore, when I first heard about Premonition last year, I was quite aroused by it. It's not until now that I finally grabbed the opportunity to watch it on DVD, and also got to know that this movie is part of a series called "the J-Horror Theater", which consists of 6 movies directed by 6 prominent Japanese filmmakers of this genre, including Norio Tsuruta (Kakashi), Hideo Nakata (Ringu),Masayuki Ochiai (Hypnopsis), Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On), Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cure) and Hiroshi Takahashi (scriptwriter of Ringu). Norio Tsuruta's Premonition and Masayuki Ochiai's Infection came out last year in 2004 as the first wave with the rest coming soon in the future.
The story of Premonition, begins with a mysterious death, shows clearly that it is a descendent of Ringu. Hiroshi Mikami plays the role of a father who is having a trip with her wife (Noriko Sakai) and daughter. When he is making a phone call at a phone booth, he discovers a small piece of newspaper covering a story of her daughter's death. Just when he wants to find out more, he is shocked to see that her daughter is hit by a truck right before his eyes, which is exactly the same as the newspaper reported. Feeling frustrated, he breaks up with her wife. A few years later, the couple comes across each other again and they are startled to discover that the mysterious newspaper is coming back again…
The premise of the story is very interesting, and as a matter of fact, the first half of the movie succeeds in keeping the audience engaged despite its little slow-paced narrative. However, the movie just begins to go out of control when more and more mysteries are being brought up but none is getting answered. It seems that the director has no intention to honestly deal with the mystery and blocks of the story, what he does is simply throwing out more mysteries to cover the previous ones. Therefore, as the film progresses, the audiences may feel increasingly confused and fail to organize everything, and finally totally lose the interest to follow the story and care about what is happening to the pathetic characters.
The style of the movie is no different from any other recent J-horror movies. The construction of a dark and cold atmosphere and the heavy use of sound effects are emphasized. Just as I mentioned above, the overall pacing is very slow and so don't expect it to be a very uplifting viewing experience. To make it easier to understand, I would say the overall visual and narrative styles are very similar to Tsuruta's previous works like Ring 0 or Kakashi. Actor-wise, Hiroshi Mikami as the mentally disturbed father is qualified as his thin and dreadful face enough is convincing to tell the audiences that he is suffering a lot. Noriko Sakai as his wife is also great, but you can't really say there is any surprise as she has already done a similar role in another horror film Ju-On 2 sometimes ago.
Premonition starts out promisingly but collapses gradually and reaches nowhere at the end. However, one must be reminded that the confusing ending doesn't have anything to do with the cinematic choice of the director, the main problem is indeed that the audiences are unable to understand what the director is intended to express or what exactly is the point of doing so.
Reviewed by: Kantorates