Monday, June 13, 2022

Premonitions, on MHz

You Know how Tolstoy wrote unhappy families are always unhappy in their own unique ways? Well, the Jacobs’ dysfunction is in a league of its own—of fantastical dimensions. The Jacobs all develop a “gift” that always manifests itself in a different way. Those powers can be dangerous, but the family would also be in great peril if they were ever discovered, as they very well might be in Patrick Lowell, Estelle Bouchard, and Charles-Olivier Michaud’s ten-part French-Canadian series Premonitions, which premieres tomorrow on MHz.

Clara Jacob is the matriarch of the Jacob family, but she is definitely a cool grandmother. She even wears a snappy fedora to prove it. Her power is the ability to see into the future of anyone she is not related to by blood. That comes in handy for her chosen line of work: professional gambler. She tends to know when hold them and when to fold them.

She has few qualms about wielding her powers, but her son Arnaud considers his “gift” an intrusive violation. He can read people’s minds and even get in there to erase memories. Having sworn off using them, he has been plagued by severe migraines. His sister Lilli on the other hand, constantly employs her powers to bewitch potential lovers. That seems like a bad idea, but viewers will halfway sympathize when they see the burn scars on her back.

As a teen, Lilli was thrown into a bonfire by a shadowy member of a witch-hunting cult dedicated to killing so-called “aberrations” like the Jacobs. Unfortunately, one of the last survviors of the brethren will try to use her latest “lover” to get to the Jacobs. Arnaud tried to wipe Pascal Derapse’s memories of Lilli, but being out of practice, he might have erased too much and maybe even left a mental connection to himself behind.

is an unusual and addictive take on the themes of superhero franchises like The X-Men and Heroes. Although we root for the Jacobs, the plain truth is Derapse is a victim of the family several times over. First Lilli’s enchantment drives him into a state of psychotic jealousy and then Arnaud really does a number on his head. Yet, when the vicious brotherhood enters the picture, Premonitions even takes on some elements of the horror genre (much more so than Firestarter).

Regardless, Pascale Bussieres is a terrific lead as the steely Clara. She also has some keenly compelling and deeply conflicted chemistry with her ex, Jules Samson, who remains a close friend of Arnaud’s. Nicely played by Benoit Gouin, Samson provides sympathetic human perspective on the chaos that unfolds.

Marc Messier is creepy as heck as William Putnam, the aberration-hunter, while Eric Bruneau is spectacularly unhinged as the brain-scrambled Derapse. Likewise, Mikhail Ahooja is impressively squirrely playing Arnaud, especially when under the influence of Derapse.

However, it is annoying how Felicia Jacob (Clara’s teen granddaughter and Felicia’s daughter) keeps acting out and often makes dangerously bad decisions merely out of spite. (Of course, there are probably parents out there thinking “Oh boy, could I tell you a thing or two.”) Yet, kids tend to grow up quickly when facing life-and-death stakes. On the other hand, there is some intensely freaky stuff involving Arnaud’s son Romain that is not fully resolved and could potentially open up a whole other can of supernatural worms.

Despite Felicia’s annoying moodiness and rebelliousness,
Premonitions is an intriguing light-sf, anti-superhero drama. Forget about “with great power comes great responsibility.” The Jacobs are just trying to get by day-to-day, without getting exposed—and they are often their own worst enemies in that respect. All ten episodes are also tightly and tautly directed by Michaud. Very highly recommended, Premonitions starts streaming tomorrow (6/14) on MHz.