Directed by Mennan Yapo
If you think about it, Sandra Bullock’s career is really amazing. Contemplate for a moment how often you hear people talk about big movie stars they cannot stand and then think about how rarely you ever hear anyone say anything negative about Sandra Bullock. She’s so likable, so adorable, such a girl next door type, always so cheerful; she’s like a human version of Minnie Mouse. Yet she so often stars in crap. But even so, you never hear people talk about how much they can’t stand Sandra Bullock. She just has that amazing star quality – always personable and perpetually cute, even if she is starting to become Dick Clark-like in how she never seems to age.
Seriously, look at her from movies she was in a decade ago, look at her now, and tell me she doesn’t look like she’s barely aged a day. She must have a Dorian Gray thing going on or something.
That’ll probably help her continue to be a bona fide star, one who is rarely the subject of scorn even when the movies she stars in are. And lord knows she’s lucky for that because, as I just stated, she stars in so much crap. Her latest crap is Premonition, easily one of the biggest pieces of crap she’s ever starred in, and I say this as a person that has seen both Speed 2 and The Net.
Premonition is a movie that’s screwed from the get-go because its makers can’t even fall back on the old argument that this is just a popcorn movie that we shouldn’t think about too much in order to pick apart. You can’t argue that the audience shouldn’t switch their brains off, sit back, and enjoy when the whole freaking movie is about putting together a puzzle – a puzzle that demands the audience pay close attention to the details so that we, like Sandra Bullock’s character, can put all the pieces together. Problem is some of the pieces don’t add up, other pieces are missing entirely, and the ultimate puzzle that’s being pieced together is nothing short of idiotic. Not nearly as idiotically implausible as The Number 23, but, as Forrest Gump would say, stupid is as stupid does. All Premonition does is stupid. It’s a lethargically directed, nonsensical piece of pseudo-spiritual claptrap with delusions of being a mind-bending supernatural thriller that only succeeds in aggravating viewers and leaving us feeling cheated.
Sandra Bullock is Linda Hansen, a seemingly happy woman with an idyllic life, married to her husband Jim (metrosexual Dr. Doom himself, Julian McMahon) with two precocious young daughters, Bridgette and Megan. Jim heads off for a business trip on Wednesday, and the next morning a cop appears at the door to inform her that he had been killed in a car accident the day before. The usual melodramatics ensue. The next morning she wakes up and Jim is alive. She spends the whole day wondering if what happened the day before was a premonition of sorts or just a really bad dream. Then the next day after that she wakes up, and not only is Jim dead again, it’s the day of his funeral. Each day after she wakes up to find it’s another day of the week before or after the Wednesday on which he was killed.
Basically, Premonition is sort of a Groundhog’s Day scenario, only it’s more of a groundhog’s week, and instead of reliving the same day over and over, she’s playing out this Sunday-to-Saturday week long scenario, jumping around at random. One day it’s Thursday, the next it’s Monday, then it jumps to Saturday, and so on, building its way back to the Wednesday on which Jim was killed. Stuff happens that carries over from day-to-day – some of which Linda’s clueless about because to her it hasn’t happened yet and other stuff she’s later able to predict because she knows what’s coming. She’s in a constant state of confusion, though Sandra Bullock never plays the role anywhere as confused as we, the audience, are, I assure you. Anytime she begins babbling about the day-to-day time traveling she’s experiencing, nobody believes her or thinks she’s nuts (including the psychiatrist she goes to see) or, in the post-Wednesday days, believes she’s just approaching a mental breakdown due to the stress from Jim’s death. Sometimes even she thinks she’s losing her mind. It all boils down to whether or not she can figure out what is going on and use it to save her husband. Or for that matter, after she finds out that Jim was planning to have an affair with a pretty blonde co-worker, will she even bother to save him?
This is a prime example of what I meant when I said the movie forgets to give us a few pieces of the overall puzzle. It seems the Hansen’s marriage isn’t so happy after all. You’d never have known there was any problem until well into the movie when Jim just out of the blue starts complaining to Linda about how this business trip might do them some good by giving them some time apart. Linda is apparently supposed to be something of a cold fish for reasons I completely missed out on. And not just a cold fish, but also a spiritual and emotional basket case. Linda visits a priest…
Oh, god, the priest scene … This is one for the ages. Did you know if you go to a Catholic priest and tell him about all the time-space anomalies you’re experiencing, his first reaction will be to whip out his Time-Life “Mysteries of the Unknown” edition about premonitions and give you a history lesson on the subject matter? Keep that in mind. And when she asks him why all this is happening to her, the priest gives her one of those great non-denominational “Touched by an Angel” style speeches about the importance of faith without ever mentioning God or Jesus by name, ultimately claiming that he believes that her lack of faith has allowed unknown, possibly demonic forces to take hold of her life. Their conversation leads her to reveal that she hasn’t been to church in ages and that she’s lost not only her faith but all hope in life. All of these revelations about inner emptiness come from completely out of left field without any prior scenes establishing any of it.
And that explanation from the priest about how all this day-to-day skipping and backtracking is happening to Linda because she’s lost her faith is the only explanation the film ever attempts to provide for what’s going on. Granted the movie is probably better off not trying to explain the why, but still… A lack of faith allowing unseen forces to begin manipulating her existence is the best they could offer? Yeah, there’s definitely an evil force at work; a force that screenwriters use when they don’t have enough faith – it’s called deus ex machina. Forget Linda Hansen; we’re the ones getting manipulated.
I never came to understand what exactly led to the trouble in their marriage or why Linda’s supposedly become this empty vessel of a human being that’s causing the rift in their marriage. I think there might have been an explanation that I missed when I had to make a visit to the little boy’s room. When I left, it was Sunday afternoon and they were still estranged. When I returned a few minutes later, it was Sunday night, she was tearfully apologizing to him for whatever, and they proceeded to make love. The Hansens appeared to have saved their marriage in the span of time it took me to go take a piss.
But anyway, that whole scene plays out like a bad recreation of the infamous 1986 “Dallas” cliffhanger where Victoria Principal found Patrick Duffy alive in her shower despite him having been dead for the past season – an all-time worst TV moment that’s been the butt of jokes ever since. This version did not play it as a joke nor did it lead to the revelation that the whole movie was just a dream. Though if it had, it would have been a better explanation than the one we got.
I also couldn’t help but notice that Jim strangely didn’t seem to have any family whatsoever outside of Linda and the kids. The man dies and never once does anyone make mention of needing to contact his relatives. Linda didn’t seem to have anyone either aside from an aunt and a best friend, still more than Jim who only seemed to have a would-be mistress to grieve for him.
Later on in the film, when Linda finally wakes up on Tuesday, we’ll see Bridgette suffer a highly improbable accident that has her running face-first through a glass door. Linda and Megan rush her to the hospital, where after having her face all stitched and crying about possibly being scarred for life, Linda assures Bridgette that she’s a beautiful princess.
So, uh, in three days since her accident nobody bothered to ask this young girl what the hell happened to her face, not even her own mother, who like all concerned parents that have just found their first-born with a slashed-up face, didn’t feel compelled to press the issue until she got a straight answer? Of course not because you see if anyone had done any of that, then we wouldn’t have gotten the big suspenseful scene where Linda gets dragged off to the insane asylum as everyone yells at her for having potentially gone violently mad and mangled her own daughter’s face.
To top it off, Bridgette’s face wasn’t even shown slashed up on Wednesday. Yes, the movie works so hard to be tricky it actually managed to outsmart itself.
There’s a lot more where that came from, going into it would take a week unto itself. As stupid as the movie is, it’s not even fun stupid, just aggravating stupid. It’s really kind of sad to think that Sandra Bullock actually read this script and thought this crap was worth getting behind. The entire production gives off the vibe of some throwaway thriller that should have been made for the Lifetime Network starring the likes of Jennie Garth or Melissa Gilbert.
But wait, they saved the ultimate act of stupidity for the end. No way in hell I’m finishing this review without including the exclamation point. I’m going to toss in an extra special spoiler warning for the two or three of you reading right now that might not want to have the ending spoiled. I’d say you have been warned, but really, hasn’t this whole review been warning enough?
It ultimately turns out that Linda’s own actions chasing Jim down the highway on that Wednesday trying to prevent him from getting killed in the car accident are the very reason he gets killed in the car accident. Well, that and the driver of the 18-wheeler who apparently couldn’t be bothered to put on the brakes sooner to keep from slamming into the vehicle stalled out in the road that he still bothered to blow his horn at from about a quarter-mile away. The whole fiery crash occurs right before her eyes, immediately begging the question: so why did the cop have to come to her house to inform her of her husband’s death if she was at the scene of the accident? Chalk that up as one of those wacky time travel movie paradoxes, I guess.
But wait, there’s more! The next time we see Linda, she’s waking up again. The kids cheerfully awaken her. Linda, too, seems happy. It becomes clear that some time has passed since Linda’s unfortunate groundhog week that left her a widow. She stands up and it’s revealed that she’s very pregnant. The picture freeze frames on her pregnant belly, and we hear a voiceover of something the priest told her about how each day of life is a miracle unto itself. The end.
I kid you not – that is how this crapfest ends. Given what an emotional train wreck the woman was during the events of the past week, you’d think she’d be even more so knowing that it was actually her actions that led to her husband dying. But no, she doesn’t even harbor any guilt knowing it was her fault that also claimed the life of the guy driving that 18-wheeler. Nope, she’s just merry pregnant widow – life is beautiful. Her being locked up in a mental hospital and the cops that were starting to wonder if maybe she had something to do with her husband’s death – all forgotten. Every day is a miracle. Have faith. It’s all good. This is some five star bullshit, I tell you what.
Watching Premonition I constantly felt like closing my eyes and taking a nap, secretly hoping that I too would wake up to find it was actually a few days earlier, preferably the previous Saturday so that I’d be back watching 300 again.
1 out of 5
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The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell
Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law
Directed by John Law
I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.
The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.
The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.
The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.
Before We Vanish Review – A Quirky and Original Take on Alien Invasions
Starring Masami Nagasawa, Ryûhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa
Written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
During the J-horror rampage of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo (aka Pulse). A dark, depressing, and morose tale of ghosts that use the internet to spread across the world, the film’s almost suffocatingly gloomy atmosphere pervaded across every frame of the film. Because of my love of this film, I was eager to see the director’s upcoming movie Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha (aka Before We Vanish), which follows three aliens who recently arrived on Earth and are preparing to bring about an alien invasion that will wipe humanity from the face of the planet. Imagine my surprise when the film turned out to be barely a horror title but was instead a quirky and surreal dramedy that tugged at my heartstrings.
Admittedly, I was thrown completely for a loop as the film begins with a scene that feels perfectly at home in a horror film. Akira (Tsunematsu), a teenage girl, goes home and we enter moments later to blood splashed on the walls and floor and bodies strewn about. However, the disturbing visuals are spun around as the young girl walks down a highway, her clothes and face streaked with blood, Yusuke Hayashi’s music taking on a lighthearted, almost jaunty attitude. From there, we learn of the other two aliens (yes, she’s an alien and it’s not a secret or a twist, so no spoilers there): Amano (Takasugi), who is a young man that convinces a sleazy reporter, Sakurai (Hasegawa), of his true form and tasks Sakurai with being his guide, and Shinji (Matsuda), the estranged husband of Narumi (Nagasawa).
What sets these aliens, and their mission, apart from other invasion thrillers is their means of gathering information. They’re not interested in meeting leaders nor do they capture people for nefarious experimentations. Rather, they steal “concepts” from the minds of people, such as “family”, “possession”, or “pest”. Once these concepts are taken, the victim no longer has that value in their mind, freed from its constraints.
While this may seem like a form of brainwashing, Kurosawa instead plays with the idea that maybe knowing too much is what holds us back from true happiness. A man obsessed with staking claim to his family home learns to see the world outside of its walls when “possession” is no longer a part of his life. A touchy boss enters a state of child-like glee after “work” has been taken. That being said, there are other victims who are left as little more than husks.
Overly long at 130 minutes, the film does take its time showing the differences between the aliens and their individual behaviors. Amano and Akira are casually ruthless, willing to do whatever it takes to send a beacon to begin the alien invasion, no matter how many must die along the way, while Shinji is the curious and almost open-minded one, whose personal journey finds him at one point asking a priest to envision and describe “love”, a concept that is so individualistic and personal that it can’t be taken, much less fathomed, by this alien being. While many of these scenes are necessary, they could have easily been edited down to shave 10-15 minutes, making the film flow a bit more smoothly.
While the film begins on a dark note, there is a scene in the third act that is so pure and moving that tears immediately filled my eyes and I choked up a little. It’s a moment of both sacrifice and understanding, one that brings a recurring thread in the story full circle.
With every passing minute, Before We Vanish makes it clear that it’s much more horror-adjacent than horror. An alien invasion thriller with ultimate stakes, it will certainly have appeal to genre fans. That being said, those who go in expecting action, violence, and terror will certainly be disappointed. But those whose mind is a bit more open to a wider range of possibilities will find a delightful story that attempts to find out what it means to be human, even if we have to learn the lesson from an alien.
Before We Vanish is a beautiful, wonderful tale that explores what it means to be human when faced with the threat of extinction.
Delirium Review – Bros, Cameras And A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On
Starring Mike C. Manning, Griffin Freeman, Ryan Pinkston
Directed by Johnny Martin
When will these testosterone-overloaded frat bros with cameras ever learn that pissing off the evil souls of the departed all in the name of amusement won’t get you anywhere but wrecked? Same goes for filmmakers: when will they learn that found-footage exploits set in a house of pure sadism are something of a wrung-out affectation? Oh well, as long as people keep renting them, they’ll continue to get manufactured…which might or might not be to the benefit of the horror film-watching populous.
Delirium opens with a poor lad, strapped with a GoPro, running for his life through a labyrinth of haunted territory, praying for an escape…and it’s a foregone conclusion as to what happens to this trespassing individual. We then relocate our focus towards a collection of (ahem), “gentlemen” self-titled as The Hell Gang, and their escapades are about as profound as their grasp on the English language and its verbiage. The words “dude”, creepy”, and the term “what the fuck” are thrown about so much in this movie it’ll make your head spin to the point of regurgitation. Anyway, their interest in the home of the Brandt clan is more piqued now than ever, especially considering one of their own has gone missing, and they’ve apparently got the gonads to load up the cameras, and traverse the property after-hours, and against the warnings of the local law-enforcement, who surprisingly are just inadequate enough to ignore a dangerous situation. The cursed family and the residence has quite the illustrious and bleak history, and it’s ripe for these pseudo-snoopers to poke around in.
Usually I’m curb-stomping these first person POV movies until there’s nothing left but a mash of blood, snot and hair left on the cement, but Martin’s direction takes the “footage” a little bit outside of the box, with steadier shots (sometimes) and a bit more focus on the characters as they go about their business. Also, there are a few genuinely spooky scenes to speak of involving the possession of bodies, but there really isn’t much more to crow about, as the plot’s basically a retread of many films before it, and with this collection of borderline-douches manning the recording equipment, it’s a sad state of affairs we’re in that something such as this has crept its way towards us all again. I’m always down for jumping into a cold grave, especially when there could be a sweet prize to be dug up in all that dirt, but Delirium was one of those movies that never let you find your footing, even after you’ve clawed your way through all of the funereal sediment – take a hard pass on this one.
Got about a half-dozen bros with cameras and a wanton will to get slaughtered on camera, all the while repetitively uttering the same phrases all damn day long? Then my friends, you’ve got yourself a horror movie!
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