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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Premonition
Premonition
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // July 5, 2005
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Carl Davis | posted July 6, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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I've been a rabid fan of Asian cinema for the past 20 years, and I've also been on the bandwagon for the ongoing "Asian Horror Renaissance" that was heralded by the release of Ringu some seven years ago. I have avidly sought out any and all Asian horror films, from the best (Ju-On, A Tale Of Two Sisters) to the not-so-great (St. John's Wort), and whether they come from Japan, Korea, China or even Thailand, I have noticed the same thing. Much like in Hollywood, one good idea can certainly go a long way, but at times the premise gets stretched too thin. Japan's Premonition is one of these instances where it's been done better before.

Premonition is based on a manga called Fear Newspaper or The Newspaper Of Terror, both names are mentioned, in which a mysterious paper appears to people telling them of terrible things to come. Looking past the fact that a CBS television show, Early Edition, was based on this same premise, the reality is that the idea of a phantom newspaper is pretty silly. The way it's presented in the film, as a phenomenon that drives people insane, to their deaths, or both, is pretty cool. I mean, how can you argue watching a boy driven mad by the horror of the paper, strait-jacketed for his own protection, biting off his own tongue and crawling around like a maggot, writing out the predictions with the blood dripping from his own mouth? Visuals like that aren't too common, but that's a good thing.

The main premise, that of a family and how the paper comes to alter their lives, bears a lot of similarity to Ringu, which coincidentally Producer Takashige Ichise also produced. The Satomi family is returning from a road trip and Hideki, the father, needs to stop at a payphone. It's here that he first sees the mysterious paper, predicting the death of his young daughter, Nana, in a fatal car accident. He watches his wife, Ayaka (played by the beautiful Noriko Sakai from Ju-On: The Grudge 2), struggle with Nana's broken seatbelt in the backseat of their car, but is paralyzed to act. As Ayaka steps away from the car, a runaway dump truck plows into it. In typical Asian fashion (I mean, Jet Li's son and all his schoolmates are blown up in a bus in High Risk), Nana is not killed instantly, but instead calls out for help as the ruptured gas tank turns the wrecked vehicle into her fiery tomb.

We pick up three years later and the death of their daughter has driven them apart. Hideki is still plagued by his inability to act and Ayaka is doing all she can to try and believe his claims that a newspaper warned him of the accident before it could happen. It's here that the movie picks up steam, as her research into the phenomenon of the paper leads her to actual evidence of the paper and those who've seen it. In fact, some become so tuned in to the paper's predictions that they are driven insane by their inaction to do anything, or driven to their deaths by taking action to stop them. You see, every time you change the paper's predictions it will exact a physical toll on you, i.e. save someone from a fire and you will be burned. In the last act, Hideki is forced to relive every variation on the events of that fateful night and comes to learn that man makes his own fate.

The DVD:

Picture: The film is presented in a 16:9 widescreen transfer and really looks great, with a clear sharp picture with little to no grain present.

Audio: The Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track (with English subtitles) sounds great, with a wonderfully atmospheric sound design and moody music.

Extras: Lions Gate Films have provided a nice selection of Extra Features on this Disc, which is the second Volume of their "J-Horror" Line, including a "Making of…" featurette, interviews with the director and cast, clips from the Japanese press conference, a Visual FX featurette and trailers for additional Lions Gate releases.

Conclusion: Premonition, while a fairly mediocre film storywise, is a visually impressive piece. From the classic Toho logo, which I'm happy Lions Gate left in place, to the cascading and overlapping realities of the finale, the film certainly gets your attention. It's just that in current climate of the growing Asian Horror market, it's no longer enough to make a slick, scary movie, there has to be soemthing that sets it apart from the pack. While I still love and recommend the Korean film Phone, the smaller J-Horror Cursed has quickly been forgotten. Premonition could have ranked up there among the best, but doesn't push the boundaries of it's premise far enough. Rent It.

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