Director: Norio Tsuruta
Screenplay: Norio Tsuruta and Noboru Takgi
Cast: Hiroshi Mikami (as Hideki Satomi); Noriko Sakai (as Ayaka Satomi); Hana Inoue (as Nana Satomi); Maki Horikita (as Sayuri Wakakubo); Mayumi Ono (as Misato Miyamoto)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #62
Fate and the idea that life could be dictated by a planned out will is a powerful concept that crops up constantly in storytelling, an attempt to explain the inexplicable and tragic in real life, but also a potential fear inducing notion that one has no control in how their life passes on. We've passed from mythology where fate played an important part for, say, ancient Greek heroes but with fortune telling and other areas of spiritualism the idea of predicting the future is still tantalising for many. Premonition, based on a manga by Jiro Tsunoda, plays with a potent idea of how by newspapers, which sudden appear and spread news of tragedies and deaths before they happen, premonitions can be a curse to have. When one older male scholar Hideki Satomi (Hiroshi Mikami), finds one in a lay-by telephone booth predicting his daughter's death, and for such a tragedy to happen, it starts events years after where he starts to be plagued by newspaper prophecies about deaths and murders he cannot stop. It's absolutely riveting as an idea, as he tries to fight against it with his ex-wife Ayaka (Noriko Sakai), a researcher in prophecies who enters his life again to helping him learn of the cause.
The film in script, fitting for a manga adaptation, evokes the cosmic horror of Junji Ito, the film able to have moved into his territory of the openly surreal if the plot was changed halfway through, the premonitions a literal curse which eventually cripples the victim with predictions of the future they can rarely succeed in changing, suddenly in the midst of a random activity forced into a trance where they scrawl the predictions on paper. As Hideki learns, one is either doomed to being locked in a padded mental institution room writing predictions on the wall with faecal matter or, if you attempt to change the future in the one great sequence involving another's series of VHS diaries, you get damned and removed off the face of the Earth. All this of this is perfect but the film finds itself caught between this tantalising content and an incoherent and eventually bland plot structure, succeeding very little and fumbling. It doesn't help that a large part of it doesn't properly use the cursed newspaper concept at all - CGI newspaper which moves and even growls at people is just silly even in the ludicrous nature of this type of cosmic horror. Even when it gets to its memorable final act, where reality is completely undermined and Hideki is forced through a series of variously horrible alternatives, it's been scuppered by the sluggish plotting of before and an outcome that is ultimately syrupy in tone, leaving one disappointed in the opportunities Premonition missed out on.