Wicked Wednesday: The Premonition (1976)

The Premonition is so 70’s it’s almost painful. I love the decade’s obsession with the occult (a hangover from the later half of the decade previously). As much as I love slasher films, I love a slow, mystical film.

Unfortunately, Premonition is a little bit too slow.

The film centres around the Bennett family. Miles and Sheri (Sharon Farrell of Night of the Comet) Bennett have an adopted daughter, Janie, who has been with them for over five years. They’re a loving family, and certainly care for their little girl.

But trouble has arrived in the form of a young woman – Andrea. She and her mime boyfriend, Jude, have finally located Janie, who is Andrea’s biological daughter. Andrea was locked up soon after her daughter’s birth and had only recently been released.

Part of Jude’s job at the carnival he works for includes him taking photos of people in those boards where you put your face into a picture (which really ought to have an official name). He has several photos for Andrea to look for, and they finally identify Janie.

Andrea goes after the little girl, and finds her after school one day. Sheri spots Andrea talking to her daughter, who is eventually dragged away by another student. While nothing serious happened, Sheri’s mom-senses start to tingle.

Miles, who works as a physicist, is working with a parapsychologist from Britain. Dr Jeena Kingsly’s type of science isn’t to Miles’ taste, but the two develop an attraction anyway. They’re out together at the carnival when Andrea breaks into the Bennett house.

Sheri is sleeping while Andrea slips into Janie’s room. Sheri awakes when she hears something the floor above her. She goes into the room, and finds Andrea rocking Janie in a rocking chair. The mother lunges at Andrea and the two women begin to fight. In a panic, Andrea grabs Janie’s doll and runs off into Jude’s awaiting truck, but not before shouting, “She is mine! She’ll always be mine!”

Andrea and Jude go to an abandoned, decrepit house that Jude had been told about. Andrea barely pays any attention to her boyfriend, being completely smitten to the baby doll. She begins to sing to it, causing Jude to wrestle the doll from her and tear off its head. The two then get into a scuffle.

The police are now involved in Sheri and Miles’ case. Mile goes to the police detective (Jeff Corey) and tells him about Sheri seeing the woman at the school. He then admits that the Bennett’s adopted Janie after they had lost two children of themselves.

Sheri isn’t dealing with the stress of the break in well. She begins to have visions. Mirrors cloud up and she’s attacked by Andrea, who is covered in gaping stab-wounds. She tells Miles that she thinks she’s being hexed by Janie’s biological mother. Miles then decides that it’s time for Sheri to meet Dr Kingsly.

While Sheri is on her way to her first appointment, the windows of the car begin to frost over and she can’t see. She panics instead of just stopping the car, and she and Janie get into a car accident. But only Sheri is pulled from the wreckage.

After Detective Denver learns about Janie’s real parents, he visits Andrea’s first husband. The man has been wheelchair-bound since his marriage to Andrea. He said that he thought that the stress of his accident was too much for Andrea to handle, so they got a divorce. She ran off and was caught out of her mind naked on a stage, and was put into a mental hospital.

When he learns about Janie’s disappearance, Detective Denver goes to the carnival, on the hunch that Janie will be there. And she is. Jude had found the little girl asleep in a ride, and took her into his trailer, but the girl is ill. When the detective begins to question the mime, Jude evades any suspicion and points the detective into the direction of the merry-go-round.

Sheri is well enough to go home from the hospital the next day. Miles is driving her when she begins to redirect him. The two end up at the house where Jude and Andrea were hiding. They don’t find their daughter, but Andrea’s body is pulled out of the nearby pond. And Sheri finds the choker necklace that had been fallen from Andrea’s body.

The Bennett’s finally are able to give Dr Kingsly’s treatment a chance. She is eventually put in bed where she begins to sing the song that Andrea was singing to the baby doll. Dr Kingsly takes from this that the girl is alive and when they find her – it will be near horses.

First, Kingsly makes Sheri play the piece that Andrea last wrote before her death. Detective Denver discovered the piece while at Andrea’s ex-husband’s home. The team sets up a piano for Sheri. She begins slowly, but slowly becomes possessed by the music (or perhaps Andrea herself).

The detective is at the Bennett’s house when a piece of mail arrives containing the picture that Sheri and Janie took together at the carnival. He finally pieces the puzzle together. But when he gets to the carnival, he’s told that Jude has already left, and the detective begins to chase down the mime.

Only Jude has been stopped in the traffic caused by Sheri’s performance. He gets out of his truck to listen. It’s then that Miles spots the horses on one of the face-hole-picture things in Jude’s trailer, and knows then that his daughter in near. But the little girl is already on her way to her mother.

The detective is able to stop Jude. And the family is finally reunited, thanks to something called “parapsychology.”

I didn’t hate this movie. A slew of reviews on Shudder said that this was the “most boring movie ever”. I don’t know what’s happened to me, but I think my tolerance for slow and action-less has gone up considerably since starting Wicked Wednesday.

I’ll admit that The Premonition is slow, convoluted in parts and, yes, a bit boring. But I like a lot of it too.  Richard Lynch, who plays Jude, and Sharon Farrell (Sheri) are both fantastic in this – particularly Lynch who is always a great villain. Even the woman who plays Andrea is a great amount of crazy.

The writers could have explored the “hexing” a lot more. It didn’t stray too far into the occult. We never get to learn too much about Andrea’s life. We meet her first husband, and we know she likes music but it stops short there. This is a film that could have benefited from a little less mystery. Oh, and a whole lot less of that parapsychology.

Science and the mystical often play really well together in film, but boy did it get kind of confusing and convoluted. But if you’re into slower, beautiful films – ones low on gore and higher on atmosphere, The Premonition is probably worth a watch.

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