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Surveillance (2009)



Average Rating: 5.2/10
Reviews Counted: 73
Fresh: 40 | Rotten: 33

This dark psycho-thriller from Jennifer Lynch, is violent, sharp and baffling, but not to everyone's taste.


Average Rating: 4.7/10
Critic Reviews: 18
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 11

This dark psycho-thriller from Jennifer Lynch, is violent, sharp and baffling, but not to everyone's taste.



liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 31,791


My Rating

Movie Info

An FBI agent encounters three would-be victims of a serial killer, all of whom have very different stories of their experiences.


Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Kent Harper, Jennifer Lynch

Aug 18, 2009

Magnet Releasing - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (73) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (33) | DVD (4)

Pullman's striking performance here is undermined by Lynch's overreliance on those same grisly shock tactics, as well as a script that fails to capitalize on a promising premise and then swiftly collapses upon the revelation of a not-so-shocking twist.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film's a failure.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In this long-time-coming sophomore film, Lynch exercises powers of her own. She gets repellant, seductive, sympathetic performances from her actors. Ormond and Pullman are frightfully good at teasing intimacy.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Surveillance suggests 'Jennifer Lynchian' should be used for films that aspire to David's moody, idiosyncratic genius and fall woefully short.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Its mad killers may wear masks. But the real and cheap disguise here is the film's own -- an exploitation shocker trying to pass itself off as art.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Comment (1)
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The most enjoyable way to watch Surveillance -- 'enjoyable' in the relative sense -- is to take its awfulness for granted and pay attention to everything Bill Pullman does.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This strange thriller mixes a penchant for grittiness with the surreal and very very dark stylings of David Lynch, who happens to be the father of the director...

March 13, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

The characters do not stand out, the drama is not compelling, and the screenplay is light on even remotely interesting dialogue.

October 22, 2009 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

It is staggering to think that a film could be so horrifically nihilistic and so painfully boring at the same time, but Lynch has done it.

September 30, 2009 Full Review Source: DVD Review
DVD Review

[S]low-boil sinister, delivering the kind of simmering menace that few films can bother to take the time for these days...

August 18, 2009 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

The pacing is so slow, you just want to yell out at the screen, "get on with it."

August 18, 2009 Full Review Source: CNNRadio

Jennifer is no David Lynch and her film, while inventive and quirky and at time quite devious, misses the organic alchemy of his films.

August 17, 2009 Full Review Source:

Some will be unable to appreciate the movie's savagery on any level. Others will find it affecting and uncompromising, the kind of movie that plunges you into a nightmare and ratchets up the intensity until you're grateful for a moment's respite.

August 8, 2009 Full Review Source: San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Examiner

A festival of carnage that's sometimes funny and sometimes waaay over the line.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Surveillance is a respectable murder mystery until its contrived 'big reveal' causes it to deflate faster than an inner tube that was just sat on by a morbidly obese person.

July 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Watertown Daily Times
Watertown Daily Times

There are a couple of admittedly arresting images on display here and there--not enough to make this film worth watching but enough to make you hope that it doesn't take Lynch another 16 years to make another one.

July 9, 2009 Full Review Source:

A wholly engaging partial misfire, if that makes sense -- a spare yet stylish marginal recommendation that connects due to its provocative premise and ruminations on violence, and the considerations that spawns.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Shared Darkness
Shared Darkness

Surveillance is a crafty crime film with an involving setup and a ridiculous payoff, but there's enough here to make it worth a viewing at least on DVD or cable.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Falls somewhere in between the somewhat tongue-in-cheek tone of Wild at Heart and the more au courant trend toward savage, nihilistic deranged-killer movies.

July 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus

Audience Reviews for Surveillance

Two FBI agents question witnesses of a brutal slaying.
As this film began, I thought it was going to be a post-modern Rashomon -- the same story told from multiple perspectives with the post-modern conception that truth is mutable. David Lynch's daughter at the helm only furthered my suspicions. However, the characters' stories merely serve as diving boards for the director's objective reality, so the film has no post-modern twist or any original concept driving it forward. Lynch uses her father's scare tactics, slow shots of looming devilish figures straight out of a Carl Jung handbook for "scary," but these flourishes bore with over-use.
Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond are stolid until the last act, during which they become cartoons. The antics of the police officers and most of the other characters are so outlandish that they defy credulity; even in a small, out-of-the-way town, there's no way these officers could have gotten this far shooting out random travelers' tires and sexually assaulting drivers.
Overall, Lynch proves that she's her father's daughter, but she's without his ideas, which makes her a copycat, a poor excuse for the original.
November 17, 2012
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Brilliant movie, starts off a bit weird but stick with it, it is well worth it.
November 1, 2012

Super Reviewer

Jennifer Chambers Lynch (daughter of the great trancendental David Lynch) made her directorial debut in 1993 with "Boxing Helena". That film recieved some scathing reviews and if my memory serves it was an absolute turkey. However, this second shot at directing is a vast improvement.
Hunting a vicious serial killer, FBI agents Hallaway (Bill Pullman) and Anderson (Julia Ormond) pitch up at a police station to question three survivors and the cops who saved them. But with the stories failing to match up, can anyone be trusted - and is anybody safe?
You can tell that Jennifer Lynch's auteur filmmaker father has had a heavy influence on his daughter. She employs a similiar eerie atmosphere; similiar characters with odd, unexplained behaviour and similar small, remote american settings like "Twin Peaks", or "Wild at Heart". Although she's still a far cry from the genius or intelligence of her father, she can be proud of what she's crafted with this one. The performances are spot on from a cast that has obviously put their trust in their director and Lynch's visual style complements the cast. It's not without it's flaws however, and sometimes verges on implausibility but I really liked it. Certainly not for all tastes but it's very effective and disturbing feeling of dread lingers long after viewing it. The fact that it's set in a deserted rural American town adds to the lonliness and fear from the characters and the audience.
In only her second film, it looks like Jennifer Lynch still has a bit to learn but with this unusual serial-killer thriller it looks like she may still have something to offer, despite living in her fathers shadow.
July 17, 2011

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