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Original Title:

Japan 2004


Norio Tsuruta

Hiroshi Mikami
Noriko Sakai
Hana Inoue
Mayumi Ono
Maki Horikita
Daisuke Ban

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Story: Hideki Satomi (Hiroshi Mikami), his wife Ayaki (Noriko Sakai) and their daughter Nana (Hana Inoue) are driving in a car on a highway. Since Hideki has to send an important e-mail because of his work and his cell phone doesn't work, they stop at a phone booth. When he sends his e-mail, he finds a strange newspaper article in the phone cabin which is about his daughter's death. However, Nana is still very lively. Only a look at the clock tells him that the article is refering to a future event! In the same moment when Hideki goes to his daughter's rescue, it's already too late. A truck hits the car Nana is waiting in and instantly kills her...
Three years later Hideki is still working as a professor at an university. He and his wife go seperate paths now, because she could never believe his story of a newspaper article. Yet, Ayaki works at the university and researches paranormal phenomenons, especially the projection of thoughts and visions on pictures. Because of her work she makes the acquaintance of a skilled medium who sadly doesn't respond to Ayaki's request to solve the mystey around the newspaper arcticles with her. It seems that the secret of these articles are protected by great danger.
When Hideki once again receives a newspaper article from the future, it's obvious for him that he has to work his way to the source and unravel the mystery, so that he can maybe even prevent future events from happening.

Review: "Premonition" is the second part of the J-Horror-Theatre Series (the first part being "Infection") and doesn't hide the fact that its purpose is mainly to make a fast buck while riding on the J-Horror-wave. However, when watching the movie you'll be surprised that it tries to go his own way, too, apart from some "Ring"-similarities. There is no ghost who wants to take revenge for the gruesome things it had to experience, but instead newspaper articles from the future are in the spotlight. Yet, this also doesn't sound that inventive. There are indeniable parallels to "Donnie Darko", "The Butterfly Effect" or the TV series "Early Edition", but this is hardly surprising as the movie is based on a manga series from Jiro Tsunoda in the 70s, so that Tsunoda is in fact the forerunner.
Director Norio Tsuruta has gained enough experience in the horror genre with his works like "Kakashi" and "Ring 0: Birthday", that he knows how to imbue "Premonition" with lots of style and shocking effects. He even adds a little bit of drama to his movie, which in the end works out quite well.

Right after a very atmospheric introduction that leaves us asking for more, the movie makes a turn to a more slow narration. Every now and then we get to see some nice shocking effects that prove that even newspaper articles that suddenly hit the window pane can be frightening as hell. However, most of the time there isn't happening anything special. Hideki and Ayaki go from one place to another with seemingly no bigger plan in mind and try to collect some information. These scenes are full of unnecessary lengths. Fortunately, the plot can keep us interested enough to make it through the first half of the movie. After this the pacing is more appropriate, things happen faster and the tension is increasing a lot.

Storywise "Premonition" hasn't much to offer, because throughout the movie we don't get to know more than we already know at the beginning. Luckily this isn't that much of a sore point as the good wrapping of the story can make up for it again and it's not as if there wouldn't be any more or less important twists, eventually. Yet, sadly the finale becomes all too predictable in the last minutes. Especially if you have already seen some movies which deal with the same main idea.

There are some actors here who just have to be animadverted. For once there is Hiroshi Mikami, who plays Hideki. His performance is somewhat exaggerated most of the time and thanks to his very expressive facial gestures he always looks like as he had just seen a ghost. In a lot of scenes this works quite well, naturally, but there are also at least as much scenes in which this just feels out of place.
Noriko Sakai plays Hideki's wife and overall gives a solid performance if there weren't the moments in which she has to mourn. To cry at the push of a button is clearly not one of Sakai's strengths and so even her grieving right after losing her daughter is unintendedly kept within limits. Nonetheless, maybe that's just the feeling you get because right next to her Mikami shows off with his immoderate performance...

"Premonition" surely has style. Tsuruta manages to create a tense atmosphere even in the more quite scenes. The pictures are captured with skill and have a very dark feeling to it. Sadly, the special effects aren't very convincing. Some of them even look so ridiculous that you can't help but smile. If there wasn't enough money involved in the production then why bother implementing CGI-effects? At least these effects don't destroy the atmosphere all too much.
Worth mentioning again is Kenji Kawai's well done score, which isn't only responsible for a lot of the film's shocking moments, but which also adds to the tense atmosphere in general.

Some critics have torn to shreads "Premonition" because of its parallels to "Ring" and a story which gets somewhat confusing, but not me. In my opinion, "Premonition" is more of a Mystery-Thriller with some drama elements thrown into, than your typical ghost-with-long-black-hair shocker. Besides, you can easily follow the story and it even deals with the question if fate is really predestinated and inescapable.
In the end, "Premonition" is just an entertaining Horror-Thriller with an interesting idea, that may guarantee for a nice TV-evening.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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