Review: “Premonition”

A tedious thriller that is likely getting theatrical release simply due to actress Sandra Bullock’s presence, “Premonition” can’t seem to get an inkling that it wears out its welcome very early on – so much so that by the time the requisite, and somewhat silly twist end comes around, we as an audience no longer care.

It’s a shame really as “Premonition” starts off with an interesting setup – the wife (Bullock) in a seemingly idyllic family learns that her husband (Julian McMahon) has died in a car accident whilst on a trip. Falling asleep after a night of grieving, she wakes up only to find life seemingly back to normal, her husband alive and at home, and the event seemingly a bad dream.

The next day however it seems that idyllic day hasn’t happened, one of her kids has been disfigured, and she ends up institutionalized. Waking up again, life is back to normal except she knows people from her hubbie’s wake who’ve never met her in this cheerier time. Is she going crazy?

It’s an interesting ‘what the hell?’ kind of scenario, let down initially by the rather lame horror touches (a dead bird, creepy kid on a swing, Peter Stormare as a drill-happy doctor, etc.), and the usual over reactionary, irrational decision making capabilities that seem to plague leading characters in these movies.

Sadly though it all falls apart after the first act as things move from interesting psychological potential to an unnecessarily convoluted, more faith-based explanation combined with what’s best described as the manic depressive’s version of “Groundhog Day”.

The last 20 minutes in particular descend into utter ridiculousness with militant family value morals shoved down our throats in a way that logically and emotionally undermines the story that came before it. Combine that with an at odds explanation as to all the craziness – ie. those without faith are prone to higher powers meddling with their heads – and it’s easy to see why the film’s is already being dismissed as one of the year’s worst.

Billy Kelly’s script piles ineffectual twist upon twist, the objective obviously to keep the audience compelled and surprised. On one front he does succeed – with so much going on it is a film that demands your attention and in contrast to many films of this type, is OVER stuffed with ideas and plot threads.

Of course the side effect includes plot holes galore, red herrings strewn about, and all the assorted ‘women in peril’ movie cliches being hit one-by-one to ensure that specific demographic it aims for will be satisfied. Other elements, ranging from a dissatisfactory marriage leading to potential infidelity to the interactions of assorted side characters like Nina Long seem murky and ill-defined.

This ties in with Mennan Yapo’s direction – polished and surprisingly slick, but lacking in a central drive or focus. The film obviously wants to work as a suspense thriller but is so low-key and all over the place that it never comes together enough to hit the beats required to generate any real suspense – and thus any real interest in how the narrative turns out.

To it’s strength is Bullock. Derided for her choice of material as she deserves to be on occasion, once again proves herself a quite capable dramatic actress. Despite simply playing the material wrongly at some points, she still manages to shine strong enough to elicit our sympathies for much of the runtime.

McMahon, Long, Valletta, etc. all deliver nicely laid back and ultimately forgettable performances, same deal for much of the production values which are solid, but unspectacular. Ultimately though it’s a forgettable movie of the week, too much of a hodge podge without any real core drive to pull us in.