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Surveillance (2008)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Jennifer Chambers Lynch

Starring:
Julia Ormond/Elizabeth
Bill Pullman/Sam
Pell James/Bobbi
French Stewart/Jim
8 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A serial killer is causing a ruckus in a small hick area and when a highway crash having to do with the said killer goes down, two FBI Agents (Pullman and Ormond) hop on the scene and shake things up. They proceed to interrogate the victims/witnesses, all in the name of getting to the bottom of the accident and hopefully, nabbing the whack-job.
THE LOWDOWN

In 1993, at 19 years old, David Lynch’s daughter JENNIFER LYNCH helmed a twisted horror comedy called BOXING HELENA starring Julian Sands and "where is she now" hottie Sheryl Fenn. The picture had some controversy tagged to its white ass at the time beyond its warped content: Kim Basigner who was initially attached to it, broke her verbal contract, bailed out on the production and got her heart shaped ass successfully sued. The film came out, got killed by critics, made no dough and we never heard of Jennifer Lynch again. Until now.  The lady is back and with a vengeance at that… that payback is called SURVEILLANCE.

SURVEILLANCE sugar, spiced and everything not so nice the screen early with a surrealistically shot scene of a serial killer brutally axing out a poor couple. The slow motion heavy and audio tripped bit played over the opening credits and it perfectly set the morbid tone of what I was in for. Thankfully that feeling of artsy unease carried out over the whole of the picture. Result? SURVEILLANCE wound up being one of the more powerful genre watches that I’ve tackled this year. The flick worked me on so many levels hence getting me off on many planes. First and foremost it was an engrossing murder/mystery that pieced together a violent occurrence by showing us 3 different points of views (flashbacks) as to the incident. Miss Lynch slyly toyed with me here, playing off my anticipations, expectations and sometimes showing me half of something, to then pull out and show me the other half down the road.  Yup, I was being mind-teased and was digging every second of it.

The affair also hit the severed head out of the park as a bleak comedy. Intentional or not, the many quirky or/and mean spirited characters here and the often aloof/offbeat dialogue they spat out had me smirking and chuckling hard. I kept getting flashbacks of David Lynch’s TWIN PEAKS and for me that was a swell thing since I LOVED that damn show more than love itself. The same went for the sadistic actions found in the film (the cops and their highway tomfoolery – nough said). They had me smirking like the Joker on blow for reasons only my shrink and his cut in half (by me) torso knows for sure. Acting wise, EVERYBODY was bang on here. I so dug how the casting was often AGAINST type. Cheri Oteri as a simple Mom? French Stewart as a cruel, goateed cop? Why the f*ck not. The inspired casting gave the roles some left field oomphs. I bought it!   

Finally, SURVEILLANCE was DAMN pretty disturbing at times. The last block in particular whooped me silly via its gleeful displays of human ugliness. Wait till you see that crash or that surprise shotgun blast. Ouch! I FELT THOSE! And all of it was coated in a trippy audio/visual veneer at that. Lynch’s nightmarish imagery kicked my ass to kingdom ass while her plays on music and sounds often echoed her father’s tricks when it came to novel and eerie vibes. Any negatives to spew out? Not much. The surprise of the picture wasn’t much of a "wow". I guessed it 5 minutes in. With that said, “knowing early” didn’t tarnish my enjoyment of the whole. Finally, the flick did lag in places and got a tad redundant when it came to chronicling the bad behavior of two Police Officers. But again, nothing I didn’t survive effortlessly.

At the end of the ringer I was put through, SURVEILLANCE wound up being a brave, artsy, violent and stylized exercise in the macabre - horror poetry in motion baby. You like it a tad outside the norm, keep tabs on this twisted bitch! LOVED IT!

GORE
Flick got real ugly in places. I’m talking slit throats, bullet wounds (great head shot), noggin blown to smithereens by a shotgun (awesome scene), somebody crushed, blood splats and more! It got messy!
ACTING
Julia Ormond (Elizabeth) is always good in my book and what she pulled off here made her even better. She's never been this damn sexy. Straight up my Jeans moved at a certain point near the end of the film. It took me about 5 minutes to get into Bill Pullman’s acting choices as Sam. After that, I was sold on his physical and out there show. Pell James (Bobbi) owned the screen with her brave, grounded, sexy and totally endearing show. She'll go places!

French Stewart (Jim) was aces as the a-hole cop. Its always good to see Michael Ironside (Captain Billings) do his thing. He was funny here. Mac Miller (Johnny) was mucho likeable as the yeyo loving boyfriend. Cheri Oteri sold me as a simple mom. She was kinda hot too! Ryan Simpkins (Stephanie) came off as natural, what else do you really want from a child actor? Kent Harper (Jack) owned it! Mean yet likeable.
T & A
We get "non fun" nudity via after the fact cadavers and we're also treated to some fairly arousing in sicko ways lesbo action.
DIRECTING
Miss Lynch excelled when it came to creating an oppressive and uneasy atmosphere. And although played straight, the flick had an almost dream like quality to it that I boogied to. Her actors were on the ball, the chain of events often intense and her storytelling techniques effective. NICE!
SOUNDTRACK
We get a chilling score, novel sound design and a powerful use of music.
BOTTOM LINE
SURVEILLANCE was a breath of dead air for this mook. Although the suject matter is one we've seen done a bazillion times before, the arresting audio/visual approach, the stellar actors, the "I should feel guilty for laughing" chuckles and the F*CK YOU attitude of the picture drove it all home with gusto. Granted, it lagged a pinch and its "surprise" was see through early on - but on whole it was horror art. You heard me... HORROR ART! It's a shame that a film of this quality is not getting a wide relase on the big screen. Quite the shame...
BULL'S EYE
David Lynch is executive producer on the film.

Kent Harper (Jack) also produced the film.

The flick was shot in Saskatchewan, Canada.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL SURVEILLANCE WEBSITE HERE

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9:33PM on 08/31/2009
An highly effective, disturbing and suspenseful thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat until the shocking, out of nowhere ending that to me made a lasting impression. The acting was strong and memorable and the violence not blood soaked but unnerving and I thought the filming was edgy and sets the films mood perfectly. I was going to give this film a higher rating but I think it didn't answer alot of questions and I felt that the story was incomplete and it could of had more of a
An highly effective, disturbing and suspenseful thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat until the shocking, out of nowhere ending that to me made a lasting impression. The acting was strong and memorable and the violence not blood soaked but unnerving and I thought the filming was edgy and sets the films mood perfectly. I was going to give this film a higher rating but I think it didn't answer alot of questions and I felt that the story was incomplete and it could of had more of a better closure to it all but I guess that makes the movie all the more disturbing because it didn't have a happy, hollywood ending. Overall this thriller was dark, disturbing, unique and suspenseful and I recommend it because it definitely stands out from other hollywood thrillers and to me it's a gem.
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