Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Premonition (1972)

Before he started making idiosyncratic character studies, Alan Rudolph got his directorial career started with a pair of low-budget genre pictures, the first of which was this underwhelming thriller about hippies running afoul of demonic flowers. Rudolph also wrote the movie. Dull, shapeless, and vague, the flick begins with lackadaisical musician Neil (Carl Crow) working as an assistant to Professor Kilrenny (Victor Izay) during a research trip into the desert. They discover a skeleton in a field dotted with vibrant red flowers, and Neil has weird visions. Some time later, after Neil has parted ways with the professor, Neil assembles a rock trio and takes his bandmates to a remote cabin, where they practice tunes and romance compliant hippie chicks. Unfortunately, those pesky red flowers bloom near the cabin, so Neil’s bandmates begin experiencing visions. Mayhem ensues, with a major character falling victim to the flowers’ influence—or something like that. The deliberately ambiguous Premonition leaves viewers as bewildered as the characters, but that type of narrative approach only works when storylines are grounded in memorable events. Alas, nothing in Premonition is memorable. Neil spends a lot of time gawking while he reacts to dark visions, and he yaks to his buddies about how upsetting the visions were, but he never does much of anything to improve his situation. Although Premonition benefits from slick photography by future A-list Hollywood shooter John Bailey, the movie is so bereft of actual events that it’s excruciatingly boring, and Rudolph misses the opportunity to draw ironic parallels between the herbs that the hippies smoke onscreen and the plants that might or might not be the source of their troubles. At least Premonition got Rudolph’s unique career going, so props to the filmmaker’s father, veteran TV helmer Oscar Rudolph, who executive-produced his son’s directorial debut.

Premonition: LAME

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