Tuesday, 20 January 2015

J-Horror January: Premonition (aka Yogen) (2004)

Premonition (aka Yogen) (2004)
Director: Norio Tsurutau
Starring: Hiroshi Mikami, Noriko Sakai, and  Maki Horikita
Running Time: 95 min
  Let's start off by saying this is not the Sandra Bullock movie.  So, I'm looking forward to seeing this because it is an adaptation of a manga comic by Jiro Tsunoda called the "Newspaper of Terror" which is such a rad name, I'm a little bit sad they didn't use as the title of the film.  Still, if they take the time to make a film about an evil newspaper then I feel I must watch it and I will predict that this is going to be a great film.

  Hideki Satomi, his wife Ayaki and their daughter Nana are driving back from a visit from their relatives and everyone is having fun but Hideki.  He is busy worrying about work and begs his wife to turn around, so they can drive back to a gas station and he can use a payphone to upload some paper work.  She does this but only on one condition that he has to sing along with them, which he grudgingly agrees to.
  When he gets to the payphone and his paperwork is being uploaded, he finds a piece of tattered newspaper in the phone booth and it has an obituary of his daughter, with her picture in it.  Confused, he leaves the phone booth in time to see a semi truck plow into his car.  Luckily his wife had just gotten out of the car to see him, but their daughter, Nana is still in the backseat, unable to escape because of a faulty car seat! The car is on fire and it then it explodes, killing Nana.  Hideki can't believe it and tries to tell his wife that the newspaper predicted it but she is too distraught over the loss of their child and thinks that he is crazy.  Also, he has lost the tattered piece of paper and cannot prove that there was any sort of premonition.
  Three years later, Hideki and Ayaki have divorced and are not speaking to each other.  Oddly enough, Ayaki is doing a study on psychics and comes across a woman, Satoko who not only knows about "The Newspaper of Terror" but she knows of somebody who disappeared trying to research it.  Meanwhile, Hideki is still working as a professor but he is having terrifying premonitions about the victims of a serial killer, who has been on a killing spree as of late.  After the news of the first murder from his premonition becomes true, he follows the next one but is too late to save the girl, however the murder is caught.
  After these new findings from her research and from the information for the psychic, Ayaki call Hideki to tell him about "The Newspaper of Terror" and they get together to discuss notes.  The decide to search out the friend of the psychic, Rei Kigata, who went missing after researching the evil paper and eventually find that his home is filled with a series of newspapers and tapes detailing his progress with his investigation of the evil newspaper and premonitions of people dying.  Apparently, if he let things go and allowed the murders or deaths to occur, the pain of knowing that he could of stopped it weighed on him so much that it began to drive him mad but if he did try to stop it and was able to save the victims of a killing then he was rewarded with a big black pus sore.  The more people he saves the more sores he gets and he eventually disappeared.  What will be the fate of Hideki and his premonitions, will he go mad like so many others with the regret of letting so many lives slip away or will he take on the sores and pains of these victims until he withers into oblivian?

  This was a really great film and the ending gets pretty crazy.  Not so much crazy violent, which I usually love, but into this weird reality shifting time thing that director Norio Tsurutau (Scarecrow, Ring 0: Birthday) keeps a good handle on it, allowing the ending to blossom into a very touching moment at the end of the film, while keeping it incredibly bleak and horrifying at the same time.
  I like the concept of the film, not just because the title is the "Newspaper of Terror" but the idea of being given a choice and still losing no matter what.  There is no explanation why these people are chosen, which is good because it doesn't matter and there isn't endless pontificating as too why.  What matters is that it's happening at the moment and the characters have to deal with it in the moment and the now, kind of. ;)
  Also, I was a little worried that this film would fall into the same troubles as most adapted manga films by trying to put too much into the film and have  the audience get lost in under developed characters or subplots that don't go anywhere but Tsurutau keeps it together and stays focus on the main aspects to the story, the relationship between Hideki and Ayaki, the loss of the their daughter and the premonitions.  There are times that the story starts pulling but he is able to pull the reigns in and keep everything straight and going forward. 

  There wasn't that many issues that I had with this film.  Like a lot of films I've been seeing lately, this is very strong psychological thrillers and although there isn't a lot of hacking and slashing in this, there are some very disturbing imagery and terrifying situations that hit right to the bone.  Hana Inoue, who played Nana the daughter, nailed it and that was one of the tenses scenes that I've seen from a child performer.  As well as the make up job for Rei Kigata character deteriorating as very good and creepy.
  Also this film is a little out there and weird, not like "Uzumaki" or even close to "Rubber" out there, but it's a very different kind of concept that some people may not dig, especially at the end with the time shifting realities.  That's okay, I know some people get confused and annoyed when this happens in films, so I'm just forewarning you or giving you that premonition vibe about these things. Damn it, now I have a black pus sore. :(
  On a side note, I'm really surprised that there was no sequel to this movie.  I think the concept is very strong and there is so much you can do with this idea.  More people with the same premonition issues and you could also do a whole back story to this.  I mean if they can make a second Paul Blart movie, then how does this not have a sequel.

  This was an awesome film with just the right amount of strange/scary mixture.  It has a very original story, some bizarre and twisted visuals and an ending that is very moving and may even touch any the coldest blackest heart of any horror fan.  So if you're looking for a weird film about newspapers that can predict the deaths of your friends and family, than this is it and it's ready for you to subscribe, baby! 

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