Unconvincingly folding together domestic drama with time-bending suspense and personal-stakes analytical thrills, Premonition represents Sandra Bullock's worst starring vehicle in a decade. Spare in design, detail and cogent thought, the film is a mock investigative thriller which unfolds over the course of one jumbled week and ultimately collapses under its own accumualted weight.
Passingly reminiscent of Gothika, but also two little-seen indies, Passion Of Mind and Danika, Premonition may stake out a halfway decent opening in the US this weekend courtesy of Bullock's name recognition and star power. Still, dark fare has never been her forte, as witnessed by the $32m domestic take of Murder By Numbers - and Premonition lacks the sort of co-stars or big, easily explicable hook that would help the film cast a wide commercial net.
Lethal word-of-mouth will quickly further dent theatrical take, resigning it to a deserved lifetime as an anonymous pay cable earner. There's little to suggest international audiences will have a markedly different take on the movie.
The story centres on Linda Hanson (Bullock), a woman who enjoys a beautiful house and has two adorable daughters cast in her likeness. One day she receives word that her husband Jim (McMahon) has died in a highway auto accident. When Linda wakes up the following morning, though, Jim is very much alive.
At first, Linda believes the accident must have just been a nightmare. Then it happens again. Some days Linda awakens to find Jim alive and well; on other days she's a widow. Using clues around her house - strange cuts on her daughter's face, covered mirrors, a bottle of prescribed lithium from a doctor she doesn't know - Linda comes to the conclusion that she is inexplicably living the days of one week of her life out of order.
Linda's traumatising intuition spurs her forward through a puzzling series of events. Determined to both uncover the cause of, and prevent, Jim's accident, Linda discovers that her life may not have been all that it appeared. Will she be able to put it back together, though - to restore things to their pre-existing state, or even refashion conditions'
There's no particular logic to the order in which the days play out in Blast From The Past screenwriter Bill Kelly's scattershot script for Premonition, either tacitly or as manifested through Linda's investigations. Visual touchstones are scattered haphazardly throughout (a dead crow here, a bottle of wine there), but they hold neither any concrete meaning nor any surreal, anxiety-provoking allure. They're just coded markers, tossed into the mix to indicate where we are a timeline continuum.
Similarly, neither do any of the film's supporting characters impact the story in a meaningful way. They're talking pieces of screen furniture that provides cues for Linda, nothing more.
Kelly's script makes the leap from tedious and head-scratching to laughably derisible in its final third. For the bulk of the movie there are no sustained attempts to truly dissect Linda's presentiments, or confer importance on her. Late in the film, though, a priest is introduced in one scene to attempt to frame Linda's eerie intuitions, and situate it with respect to faith and historical precedent.
At the behest of director Mennan Yapo (Framed), cinematographer Torsten Lippstock trades in lots of floating Steadicam, lurking high angles and tight close-ups - work that seems better suited to a television movie.
Drama is conveyed, meanwhile, through an insipid laundry list of standard genre tropes like ratcheted-up atmospheric aural cues, panicked drawer searches, trash can reveals and wildly shaken frames in two intense scenes which introduce Dr Norman Roth (Peter Stormare) and find Linda first confronted with Jim's body.
Bullock and Julian McMahon evidence no great chemistry with one another, but the film is for the most part pitched with such flattened affect that you're not entirely sure they're supposed to. Their sour visages register less as marital discord than as default monotony. Each seems justifiably bored, and eager to escape the film as quietly as possible.
In a movie awash with unimaginative technical credit interpretations of a dull, frequently senseless narrative, composer Klaus Badelt's music stands out as the notable exception. Driven alternately by mournful strings and simple piano work, the score is full of open spaces, and manages to come across as evocative and lightly thematic in spite of the dubious nature of the material around and under it.
Hyde Park Entertainment
Hyde Park Entertainment