Premonition

When you go to the theatre every week, you can bet that you stay up-to-date on all the latest trailers. I'd seen the preview for this film several times, and it looked good -- even Yahoo movies told me I'd probably like it. And does anyone not like Sandra Bullock? I mean, seriously. Besides, the only way I would have agreed to review Dead Silence is if someone brainwashed me into thinking it was a comedy.

Sandra (I just feel like I have to be on a first-name basis with her) plays Linda Hanson, Everywoman. She's a housewife living in a nice house in a town that's never named, with her hardworking husband and 2.4 adorable children. Er, I mean, their two adorable daughters. She even has the same kind of coffee mug my mother does. The only thing missing is the faithful dog with soulful eyes. She drives her kids to school, cooks, cleans, and somehow manages to look terribly pretty without looking like her personal stylist has just finished with her. I don't know how she does that. Oh, and she also lives the days of the week out of their usual order. I don't know how she does that, either.

Poor Sandra is equally confused. She lives through the nightmare of a police officer appearing on the doorstep with the news that a loved one is dead -- in this case, her hardworking husband, Jim -- only to discover the next morning that Jim is alive and well and eating Raisin Bran in their nice, homey kitchen. Her efforts to figure out what's happening only confuse her more, and every time she wakes up (sometimes every time she turns around, it seems) it's a different day, and not the day she was expecting. At one point she prefaces a question to her husband (on one of his "alive" days) with a faintly helpless, "If tomorrow is Wednesday", which gets about the reaction you'd expect, and I really feel for the poor woman.

In fact, you'll feel for Sandra through this whole movie. Her reaction to the news of her husband's death is heartwrenching, her efforts to make sense of it all are realistic and tense, and the camera work really pulls you in. I'm often a little leery of handheld cameras, because they all too often end up as a distraction, but here it gave a feeling of being in the room with the actors, just as it should. In spite of the fact that it's filmed like a horror movie at times, it's really a very homey picture, revolving around friends, family, and what it means to be married with kids and a mortgage.

Unfortunately, the film loses its way a little towards the end -- or the beginning, depending on how you look at it. A wise old priest appears from nowhere to explain things, and it all seems rather forced. I'd heard that Groundhog Day originally explained Bill Murray's plight as being the result of a curse placed on him by an ex-girlfriend, and I'm very glad they took that out. It's better unexplained. And since this film is being compared to Groundhog Day a lot, it's a shame they didn't learn from that example on this point.

Aside from that, though, it was a good film. Sandra carries the whole thing pretty much single-handed, but she can do it effortlessly 'cause she's Sandra. Not that the supporting cast isn't good -- Peter Stormare, for instance, has a fun little part playing the only psychiatrist in town, which probably explains why he has such a cool office -- but it's all about Sandra's struggles. I'd never seen Julian McMahon, who plays Jim, in anything before (he was Victor Von Doom in Fantastic Four), but he seems like a good actor. He just needs to do something with those perfectly horizontal eyebrows of his. They're distracting.

So the bottom line is three and a quarter idols. Almost three and a half. It's spooky, but not overwhelmingly so, intelligent, and very entertaining. So go watch Sandra now. Just be careful of some of the flashbacks -- the director was unfortunately very fond of fading to pure, blinding white instead of black, so watch out for retinal damage.

Originally published in 3/2007. I should probably watch this again.

Image: 
Sandra waits for all her nightmares to come true.

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