(YOGEN) 2004

Director: Norio Tsuruta

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

A father needs to use a roadside telephone booth as his wife & child wait in the car. In the booth he finds a newspaper clipping that reports on the death of his child in a roadside auto accident, stating a time about two minutes in the future. As he puzzles over the scrap of paper, he watches his wife get out of the car & as she is crossing the street toward the phone booth, a truck plows into the parked car.

The story then cuts to a few years in the future. The griefstricken couple are no longer married. The father is a perpetually depressed recluse, The mother is a skeptical investigator of psychic phenonemon. She has a particular interest in a phenomenon known as "newspaper terror," the momentary appearance of news articles from the near future, which invariably predict accidents.

Hiroshi Mikami as the father is a marvelous character actor to watch as his character dissintegrates emotionally & eventually physically. He is not traditionally handsome, but seems to have been cast for his ability to look constantly worried & frightened. Noriko Sakai as his ex-wife is not as unique a presence, & though her role is well written, she lacks the eerie charisma of the leading man, so it becomes almost exclusively his story despite that she has a substantial role.

The investigation reveals that one way or another, whoever has newspaper terror experiences is doomed. If they do not act on the premonitions & therefore permit destinies to unfold as they are meant to, they lose their minds with increasing numbers of horrible headlines impinging on their consciousness, ending up in madhouses, aging rapidly, scribbling headlines on the walls in their own blood.

But if they do act on the premonitions & succeed in saving lives, their own bodies become stained as if with newspaper ink & within a few months they dissolve out of time altogether & cease to exist unless in some ghostly realm outside of any wholesome dimension.

There seems to be no useful purpose to the phenomenon, & no option that can have a good outcome.

Better plotted than the majority of "J-horror" films, Premonition builds to an impressionistically logical climax that does find a third option for how to respond to the newspaper terrors. As a work of fiction it makes a satisfying story, one that is excellently acted & totally creepy without reliance on the usual tricks of pasty-faced children crawling on the ceiling or similar cheezy FX. It relies on the strength of its story & the quality of its acting to create a mood of authentic horror.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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