Premonition (2004)

Rating: C

Dir: Norio Tsuruta
Star: Hiroshi Mikami, Noriko Sakai, Hana Inoue, Daisuke Ban
a.k.a. Yogen

The sleeve for the second installment (after Infection) in Taka Ichise’s “J-Horror Theater” series makes it look like a Ring clone, but this is perhaps a Japanese take on Final Destination, albeit without the imaginatively splattery deaths. Which is a shame: the grand guignol gore was half the fun – okay, all the fun – in that series. College teacher Hideki (Mikami) sees his daughter killed in a roadside accident, seconds after finding a newspaper which reports the death. His wife (Sakai) doesn’t believe him, and they separate; three years later she is, conveniently, a paranormal researcher and he is getting more printed premonitions, despite a strong, and understandable phobia of newspapers. Inevitably, they team up, to try and find out what’s going on, and whether they can stop fate from its seemingly-inevitable path.

The strange thing is, despite its cheery shallowness, FD made a better stab at explaining things. It’s never clear why Death publishes a newspaper, or how one gets on the subscribers’ list. The middle is definitely weak, as we are quite some way ahead of the characters: oh, this is where they work out the “rules”. Dum-de-dum. Okay, now he must try to save his wife, whose mobile phone has conveniently fallen from her pocket. La-la-la. Mikami captures the perpetual terror of someone in his situation nicely, and the last ten minutes, where things simultaneously unravel and get tied together, are great, nearly enough to redeem the film. Otherwise, however, if you’re more than a casual genre fan, you’ll have seen almost every aspect of this before, and probably done better too.