Eugene Weekly : Movie Review : 3.22.07


I’ve Got a Feeling
Something wickedly awful this way comes

PREMONITION: Directed by Mennan Yapo. Written by Bill Kelly. Starring Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Nia Long, Kate Nelligan, Amber Valletta and Peter Stormare. TriStar Pictures, 2007. PG13. 110 minutes.

It’s a puzzle, get it?

Unlike Sandra Bullock’s last time-twisty film, The Lake House, which was a sweet bit of fluff, Premonition is a Meaningful movie. And I’m going to indulge in Meaningful Capital Letters, the way Klaus Badelt’s score indulges in Meaningful Strings of Doom and director Mennan Yapo indulges in Meaningful Slow Shots to convey … well, what, exactly? Maybe to convey the fact that Premonition‘s house-of-shuffled-cards story isn’t strong enough to move the film along; horror-movie conventions (Why doesn’t that girl turn around? Is there … something wrong with her face?) and the misapplication of importance on Seemingly Everyday Happenings are required to give this piece of hoo-ha anything resembling forward momentum.

Premonition is a dire thing to sit through — and that’s not even counting the 20 minutes spent sitting in a dark theater, with no explanation, after the film cut out during the preview for Waitress (this preview, I should add, was easily the highlight of the evening, and not only because Waitress stars hot piece of man-candy Nathan Fillion from Serenity). Not solid enough to be a drama, creative enough to be fantasy fiction or taut enough to be a thriller, Premonition feels, by the end, like a thinly disguised serving of traditional-values touting nonsense. Everything will be OK — even if it seems bad at first! — if you just, you know, really love your husband. Oh, and your kids. Don’t forget that children are our future.

Is there a plot? Sure. Linda Hanson (Bullock) — who, you musn’t forget, Has It All — wakes up one morning, sends her kids to school and gets a visit from the sheriff: Hubby Jim (Julian McMahon) is dead. For some reason, it’s taken the authorities a whole day to get around to telling her this. Linda is ostensibly Distraught though Bullock mostly lets tears run nicely down her cheeks. Her mom stays the night, but when Linda wakes up, Mom isn’t there —Jim is. Lather, rinse, repeat, as Linda navigates the mysteries of Jim’s hot coworker Claire (former model Amber Valletta); creepy psychiatrist Dr. Roth (Peter Stormare), who hands her a lithium prescription, presumably because it sounds Dramatic; her well-intentioned mother’s attempt to have her committed; Jim’s continued Appearances and Disappearances; an accident involving one of her daughters and the thinnest glass door ever made; oh, and a Meaningful Dead Bird.

Are you catching how Fraught with Meaning it all is? Despite all that Meaning, there is barely a minute of tension or drama in Premonition that isn’t a product of Badelt’s over-the-top score. In his musically overwritten world, there is nothing that can’t be creepy: No, not the laundry! And look out for the hopscotch! Without the score, the movie might turn into an accidental comedy. Still, as the priest counsels Linda, you must have Faith, and Faith means believing in things outside yourself. I believe that no matter what I watch next, it will be Better. And that will be a Beautiful Thing.