Directed by: #JamesErsted
Written by: James Ersted
Just in time for Halloween, The Premonition is a well-produced short horror film from writer/director James Ersted. Featuring solid performances from all of its cast, an appealing visual aesthetic and great 80’s style slasher movie music, The Premonition is nonetheless let down by its lack of substance, which ends the macabre tale with more a whimper than a bang.
At dusk on October the 31st, a group of children (including Evan Alex from 2019’s lauded Us) are out trick-or-treating. Arriving out the house of Miss Hooper (Betsy Baker - star of the original Evil Dead), the kids load up on compliments for their costumes, complimentary candy for their bellies and then head on their merry way. As Miss Hooper relaxes into her evening, she experiences a vision of the Grim Reaper (Aric Cushing) coming to the door for to claim her immortal soul. Awaking from her dream, Miss Hooper senses things are not quite right this All Hallows Eve. Could it be something to do with the intruder (Paul Parducci) seen hanging around outside earlier?
Considering the high production values and very professional presentation of the film, it truly is a shame that Ersted’s script limps to its conclusion so undramatically. The camera work is slick and satisfying, with a crisp, cinematic tone that perfectly suits the subject matter. The dusk lighting and autumnal colours are highly reminiscent of the original Halloween and the pitch-perfect synth score brings to mind other horror classics, such as A Nightmare on Elm Street. As a piece of Halloween atmospherics, The Premonition works very well; however, whilst the aforementioned movies are masterpieces of tension that leave strong visual impressions on the viewer, this film simply does not do enough with the 5-minutes allotted to it. The result is that it simply doesn’t feel ‘scary’: it’s a pleasant, Tim Burton-esque brand of pseudo-horror; all the elements are there, yet its warm visuals and slow-but-rushed pacing make it a decidedly twee experience.
The Premonition is a film that deserves praise, because pretty much every aspect of it is technically handled very well. However, this is a movie which perfectly emphasizes how every component of a work should fit together into a whole, one which is greater than the sum of its parts. Ersted’s ability as a director is considerable but he fails to achieve a cohesive concept here: it is neither scary, nor particularly funny, tragic or anything else in between. It simply ‘exists’, is mildly pleasant, and then is over.