Premonition (2004)
By: J.R. McNamara on January 22, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Eastern Eye (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). Japanese DD 5.1. English Subtitles. 90 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Norio Tsuruta
Starring: Hiroshi Mikami Noriko Sakai Maki Horikita Mayumi Ono Daisuke Ban Hana Inoue
Writer: Jirô Tsunoda, Noboru Takagi, Norio Tsuruta
Country: Japan
Purchase
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J-horror directors seem to be at an advantage when it comes to finding material for their feature horror films. Comics (or manga) are treated with much more respect in most Asian communities, and not like the red-headed stepchild of art and literature for losers and miscreants that Western societies treat them. Western horror comics seem to have to have a 'hero' monster for we, the uneducated comic reader, to be able to follow what's going on, like Marvel's Ghost Rider and Frankenstein titles, or DC's Swamp Thing or Vertigo line, whereas the Japanese manga readers are treated without such contempt, and the concept of horror, without a 'main character', can be the central theme.

Premonition, aka Yogen is a film based on such a 'concept horror' idea. Directed by Norio Tsuruta (one of the Masters of Horror with his entry Dream Cruise) the film is based upon the manga by Jiro Tsunoda 'Kyofu Shinbun', which is also known as 'Fear Newspaper', which ran in Shonen Champion between 1973 and 1976, and was developed into an OAV (Original Animation Video) in the early 1990s, and into this film in 2004.

Premonition tells the tale of professional couple Hideki (Hiroshi Mikami) and Ayaka Satomi (Noriko Sakai) who are witness to an accident that kills their daughter, Nana (Hana Inoue). The tragedy is that minutes earlier, Hideki was warned that the accident would happen, by a premonition that appeared to him in the form of a newspaper. The story jumps forward three years, and the couple have not recovered from the death of their daughter, and have split up. Both have tried to forget the awful incident, but tragically both blame themselves for it: him, because he needed a roadside internet site to send some work in, and her, because she allowed him to do so.

Ayaka has become obsessed with researching the paranormal occurrences of the fortune telling newspaper in an effort to try and believe Hideki's crazy claims, and discovers that those who have seen one cannot alter the future for the doomed ones whose fates are told within, and are cursed with the knowledge of impending deaths, and impotence to do anything about them.

Through the research, Hideki and Ayaka manage to reunite, and rekindle their love, that is, until Hideki is visited by a newspaper announcing her death, but can he save her, and what are the cosmic repercussions of doing so?

The only real problem I had with this film was actor Hiroshi Mikami. Through the subtle scenes he acts well, and portrays his character with poise and grace, but the second something strange, or emotionally charged occurs, he becomes a hysterical 12 year old girl who has just found a snake in her bed.... wide eyes and all!!!

This film is thematically reminiscent of Western films like the Butterfly Effect and Final Destination, and has some truly scary moments, which are hard to come by in this day and age. Much kudos to director Norio Tsuruta for creating an atmospheric and disturbing piece.
Video
This film is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement, and is a crisp picture throughout. Actually, the slightly muted colours throughout this picture add to the disturbing atmosphere.
Audio
This film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in Japanese, but with the option for English subtitles. The soundtrack, like the picture, adds to the spookiness, and adds to the films unsettling air.
Extra Features
Some nice extras on this disc, unfortunately some of which suffer from the fact that the English subtitles aren't automatic, and you have to set them again for every extra. A minor point but worth pointing out nevertheless.

The Making of Premonition is broken down into six chapters, each showing the making of a particular scene, and the cast and crews opinions on each days shooting. The days where the suffering of the little girl appeared to be the hardest, especially seeing as how the director himself has a young daughter.

Visual Effects is a selection of special effects scenes broken down into their live and cg elements: an interesting piece if you like to know how visuals were done.

Interviews has a series of dialogues from the director, Norio Tsuruta, and performers Hiroshi Mikami, Noriko Sakai, Maki Horikita, Mayumi Ono and Kazuko Yoshiyuki. This is an interesting series of interviews, especially with the director who tells about his way of filming horror movies.

Press conference is just that: a promotional round table with the creators of the film Premonition. It is basically a bit of hoo-ha for the actors and the director to talk up the film.

Another useless photo gallery also appears.

This disc also features the International Trailer for the film, the Japanese TV spot and trailers for other Madman releases: The Eye, Spider Forest and Shinobi.
The Verdict
The greatest disservice you could do for this movie is to mistake it for the 2007 Sandra Bullock snore-fest of the same name. This film is mostly unsettling, but is truly horrifying if you are, like me, a parent.
Movie Score
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