Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SURVEILLANCE - when weird trumps conventional judgment

SURVEILLANCE is a deeply bizarre film that works against all probability. It's directed by Jennifer Lynch who is known, if at all, for being David Lynch's daughter and for directing the bizarre flick BOXING HELENA - a movie so odd Kim Basinger tangled with lawyers to avoid it. Years later, and Lynch is back with a movie that starts off as a conventional horror flick. Two serial killers savagely kill a sleeping couple pre-credits and then disappear into the night. Post-credits, two Feds turn up to interrogate the survivors - an eerily observant young girl; a coked-up teenager; and a dodgy state cop. The title of the flick alludes to the fact that the Feds hook up surveillance cameras to watch the interrogation, but not a lot's made of it. Rather, the movie plays like a thriller in which the corrupt cop and the coked-up teen evade their interrogators, and the Feds try to extract information from the kid. Anyone who knows anything about horror movies will guess the plot twist - the "whodunnit" - miles before the ending. But the movie actually gains in interest after that. Because just how the serial killers are entrapping their victims, and just what they do to them when they get them, is so bizarre it's transfixing, despite the balls-out ridiculous performance from the parties involved.  There's also mild enjoyment to be had from the sub-David-Lynchian tropes his daughter has adopted - Feds with eccentric mannerisms and a nihilistic world in which the powers that should be protecting you are typically the most frightening of all.

SURVEILLANCE played Cannes 2008 and was released last year in Portugal, France, Germany and Austria. It opened earlier this year in Croatia and the Netherlands and is currently on release in the UK. It opens in the US on June 26th.

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