• Fatal Premonitions

    Released by: SRS Cinema
    Released on: February, 2018.
    Director: Matt Watts
    Cast: Kyle Valmassy, Sarah French, Jake Blackmore, Matt Watts, Anastasia LaBelle, De'Jon Watts, Alexis Acosta
    Year: 2017
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    The Movie:

    Matt Watts’ Fatal Premonitions is a shot on video horror anthology film made for only a few hundred dollars. The three shorts that make up the bulk of the film are bookended by footage of a young man named Karl (played by Kyle Valmassy) talking to his therapist (the great Mark Polonia). As they talk, we see Karl’s stories play out in front of us.

    First up is Axe Of Violence. When this one begins, a van with four friends in it runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere. The driver (played by director Watts) and his girlfriend (Sarah French of Landshark) stick around and make out their friend with the cool sideburns guy reads porn. The fourth passenger, Kyle, is sent to go and get gas. While he’s gone, a killer with a white bag over his head shows up and kills the two other guys while Ms. French gets chained up and tortured in the basement of an abandoned house. Kyle comes back, and has to face the killer.

    The second short is entitled Twisted Specters and it’s interesting in that it has very little dialogue. Here Karl is having trouble sleeping due to some weird hallucinations. As this story plays out we see a series of what may or may not be dream sequences occur, one of which involves a guy in a weird metallic mask showing up in the house (there’s a big Sledgehammer influence here). He and Karl fight, but then of course Karl wakes up, was it just a bad dream. He drinks, takes sleeping pills, has a bath and a glass of wine with a rubber duckie nearby – obviously he’s doing everything he can to relax and get some much-needed sleep. Then the wine starts to bubble, he spits up blood and green and blue goop... is this a dream or is it real? Is he going crazy or is he just sleep deprived? He sees mask guy the next morning outside... and the mask guy crushes his skull. All a dream! Or was it... and then he meets a fairy princess in the woods. Huh.

    The third and final story is entitled Blood House. When it begins, a grumpy farmer who kind of looks like James Cameron (Jake Blackmore, stops Karl as he drives his car down a country road. They argue a bit – is it a warning? Karl soon goes on his way. He heads to a house he is renovating, and weird things start to happen. First, he finds an old leather-bound book with a pentagram on it. He reads it, falls asleep and has crazy gory dreams. The next morning, he wakes up with weird mark on his back. That day he goes to a bar, meets up with pretty young woman (played by the special effects artist on the movie, Alexis Acosta) and they hit it off. He goes home and sleeps unaware that nearby in the woods two dudes are goofing around and are subsequently attacked by a giant monkey man. Was it Karl? Is he a killer monkey? That girl he met at the bar is going to find out one way or another…

    There’s a bit of a trend going on these days wherein a lot of low budget filmmakers are paying tribute to the past by recreating the look and feel of eighties and early nineties era shot on video films. Usually, as fun as some of this stuff can be, there are technical problems here – shooting in 1.78.1, shooting on digital formats… that type of thing. That might sound minor, but stuff like that, it takes you out of the movie a bit and ruins the illusion. Full points then to Matt Watts for actually shooting Fatal Premonitions with a camcorder and presenting the movie in all its fullframe, analogue glory. The visuals here are convincing simply because they’re authentic. The fact that he chose to do completely practical effects work in the film also helps. They’ve got that old school charm that’s so much fun to watch in movies like this and not only that, there’s a lot of them. The movie doesn’t hold back on the gore, particularly in the last story. If Fatal Premonitions wears its influences quite clearly on its grubby, gore-soaked, low budget sleeves, so be it. This isn’t the most original film you’ll ever see but it is a pretty fun way to kill ninety-one minutes.

    Performances are decent. No one here is going to take home an Oscar but leading man Kyle Valmassy (a firefighter by trade, according to the commentary), is fun to watch. He handles himself well here and seems to be having a good time here, even when he falls down a hill in one scene and lands in a pile of poop (he truly suffered for his art)! Sarah French has proven herself as more than just a pretty face by appearing in a string of B-movies. Her work here is just fine, though honestly, she’s a little underused. Jake Blackmore is good as the ‘Crazy Ralph’ type character and Mark Polonia is a kick as the pipe smoking therapist who clearly is clearly much more than he seems.


    Fatal Premonitions was shot on VHS so don’t expect much fine detail from the Blu-ray transfer, which is framed at 1.33.1 fullframe. The image looks as you’d expect it to, given the source material, though unfortunately there is some macroblocking evident in a few scenes that better compression could probably have done away with. Aside from that, the picture is fine – this was shot on tape, and so it looks like tape. Colors are decent enough and as long as you go into this with the right mindset, it’s more than watchable.

    Audio chores are handled by an English language Dolby digital 2.0 mix, there are no alternate language options or subtitles provided. The quality of the audio is pretty much on par with the video. This is an intentionally low-fi affair, and while the dialogue is occasionally a little muffled, for the most part it’s easy to understand. The synth heavy score sounds alright and the sound effects often times appropriately icky.

    The main extra on the disc is a commentary from Matt Watts that covers a lot of ground, including locations, the shooting schedule, why he chose to shoot the movie on actual VHS using an old Panasonic camcorder, the different gore effects that were created (often using aquarium tubing and wet paper towels!), where the different cast members came from, why Valmassy’s performance ‘degresses’ as the movie plays ouot, influences that work their way into the movie like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, how and why Mark Polonia came to appear in the film and working on a shoestring budget. He also talks about how one of the houses used in the movie was used by Jim Wynorski in Cheerleader Massacre and talks about abandoning Blood House at one point before going back to finish it, thus explaining its obvious missing sub-plots and story problems. It’s a pretty insightful track that delivers a lot of information with a decent sense of humor.

    The disc, a BD-R, also has blooper real, trailers for all 3 shorts, trailers for a bunch of other SRS Cinema movies, menus and chapter selection. The disc also ships with a poster that replicates the front cover art.

    The Final Word:

    Fatal Premonitions doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it’s not trying to. If you’re into VHS/SOV throwbacks, this one is better than most at least in terms of how authentic it looks and in how its low budget effects are accomplished. The Blu-ray presentation isn’t going to floor you – it looks like a tape because it was sot on a tape – but there are a few decent extras here, highlighted by a genuinely enjoyable commentary track.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!