Surveillance Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 22, 2010
Wow a decent thriller with a dark slick murder mystery. If i say anything else it could give away the whole mystery. So instead I will just say watch this one.
Super Reviewer
½ November 17, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2012
Brilliant movie, starts off a bit weird but stick with it, it is well worth it.
Super Reviewer
½ June 14, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
September 13, 2010
Holy cow!! You have no idea how many times I almost turned this movie off because I thought that it was stupid. Bill Pullmans weirdness, the off the wall cops, and just the strangeness of everything that was going on. Then all of a sudden everything came together and made sense. I went from thinking that this was some weird lame butt movie, to thinking just the opposite. So...moral of the story, give it about an hour and you have an awesome movie!! haha.
Super Reviewer
March 10, 2009
Weird thriller! It's a pretty raw movie and from the obscure opening on to the landscape shots, introduction of the characters until the unfolding of the stories begins it's interesting. Basically the movie is about a couple of FBI agents (Bill Pullman & Julia Ormond) who are interrogating three survivors of a bloody crime and trying to find out what happened. The way the story is told through the eyes of the different survivors who all got something to hide and therefore all tell different stories while the real occurrences are shown is really interesting and tense. The characters, especially the twisted corrupt cops, the little girl and the drug-addict girl are also great and everyone in that backwoods police station where the interrogations take place delivers. Funny thing is... to me the two FBI agents are the least interesting although they are the main characters.
Super Reviewer
½ July 6, 2009
A (mostly) pleasant surprise.

On a postive note the film is nicely shot and the story told in an interesting way. On the down side, most of the characters were painfully bad caricatures and the big "twist" was no surprise by the time it happened.

Julia Ormond was brilliant. and it was nice to see French Stewart (almost unrecognizable in the role) and Cheri Oteri get a chance to show their chops in something other then a sitcom.

There is a "alternate ending" in the "Extras" section of the DVD that I almost like better then the one that was used. Worth checking out.
Super Reviewer
½ April 29, 2010
Hot off the success of her widely-loved Boxing Helena, Jennifer Lynch actually manages to nicely acquit herself with this dark, intriguing, sickly humorous thriller. Shame about the final third; while the movie still remains watchable, and there are some deliciously evil kinks in the formula, its predictability means that you really don't care where it goes anymore. If you're bothered by predictable twist endings...well, don't pass it over, because there's still a lot to like about this film. By far the strongest point of Surveillance is its beyond-the-call acting. Lynch has clearly inherited a gift for getting organic, off-kilter performances out of her actors; awkward characters such as the secretary that would have been embarrassing and useless in other movies only seem to bolster Surveillance's odd little world. Julia Ormond and Bill Pullman, two rather vanilla actors, are handed some especially interesting duties here. Initially they just seem like plot pushers, but they have great interplay which becomes all the stronger as the movie proceeds. The supporting players are all uniformly excellent - Lynch gets surprising dramatic work out of French Stewart AND Cheri Oteri, of all people. She deserves some sort of award. Finally, the movie is peppered with gallows humor, including one (fantastic) scene in the middle where you constantly vacillate between disgust, horror and bemusement. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is when a police officer starts talking to a coked-out woman about his partner's recently deceased family, and she is visibly fighting to keep herself from laughing; it's perverse and kind of cruel, yes, but the execution is so perfect. You're legitimately scared for the character.

The plot itself is nothing new. It's basically just a more violent Rashomon. The device still works well when utilized properly, and Lynch bounces us between the past and the present enough to maintain a sense of mystery, but not so much that we get annoyed. The disparities between each character's rendition of the tale and what we see actually happened enliven the story and enrich their personalities. Surveillance isn't anything special, at the end of the day, but it's a proficiently made film that elevates its generic roots. If you have a taste for the dark, unusual and moderately fucked-up, this is definitely a movie to catch.

Also, if you dislike cops, this will absolutely boil your blood, so be warned.
Super Reviewer
½ February 15, 2010
Took me about 25 minutes into the movie to figure out the Bad guys from the Good Guys, Pretty Gory in Parts. Child actor Ryan Simpkins Child actress gave a excellent 5 star performance. Michael Ironside (Best in Scanners) did his normal role which was good. Not a lot of suspense just a lot of blood. I will not give away the ending you will have to get that on your own, its ok. Only worth 31/2 stars. A rental.
Super Reviewer
½ January 29, 2010
I thought this was a brilliant film. I first saw this two weeks ago and have since watched it five times, but am still unsure what all I have or need to say in a general review of it without giving anything away.

There are some minor plot holes, but the acting is perfect with some unforgettable performances by Julia Ormond and Bill Pullman. This is the second film by Jennifer Lynch, the first since she has reached true adulthood, and I can tell that she has certainly matured as a storyteller and not at all lost her penchant for darkness. Reacting to the film's arc, her father David Lynch described his daughter as "one sick bitch" for making this film. I don't think there's any better endorsement.

I don't want to give ANY spoilers so I won't write much more than "SEE THIS!", but would LOVE TO DISCUSS this flick's particulars with anyone.


"That's Fucked Up" Highlight:
strangling the junkie girl and then sucking out her last breath as she asphyxiates
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2010
The first act of Surveillance had me convinced that Jennifer Lynch was going to spew out a mosaic of her famous father's bag of tricks and as long as I had a giggle or few like her father rarely fails to supply I was going to be okay with that. There was enough goofy randomness and curious unexplained pauses worthy of anything David Lynch did in the past 20 years but then Jennifer Lynch had to go and explain the whole goddamned thing with a twist I saw coming a mile off less than halfway through the movie. Bill Pullman is great throughout (especially at the end) and his chemistry with the normally boring (but not boring here) Julia Ormond was actually great. Surveillance turned my normal wariness of cops into full on disdain after the disturbing turn the movie makes but overall I felt like I was getting a piss poor consolation prize until David Lynch decides to make another movie. The half-assed Rashamon plot device works to a point but I was just waiting for the goddamned thing to end once I figured out the twist. And I rarely figure out the twist...
Super Reviewer
August 7, 2009
A pretty decent straight to DVD thriller with a familiar cast. It's quite entertaining but really relies on the twist, which is good but most film fans will probably work out early on. Still a nice change from the norm.
Super Reviewer
October 18, 2009
An offbeat thriller that is well-made but not really all that thrilling or surprising. In fact I'm still not sure if the "twist" was really supposed to be a twist since if you pay any attention it all but smacks you in the face by the halfway mark.
Anyway it features a great cast all around and is surprisingly funny-- although most of it is of a darker variety.
Super Reviewer
May 24, 2009
Jennifer Lynch, daughter to renowned director David Lynch, makes her debut here with Surveillance and has inherited his eye for style and taste for bizarre twists. This film involves 2 FBI agents investigating a spree of gruesome murders across the countryside. They have 3 witnesses to one of the crimes who are all give differing accounts of what they saw.

It was no secret that a big twist was coming at the conclusion of this film, but I easily predicted it in the first 15 minutes. Maybe my senses were to keen on searching for it, but it was a very disappointing and obvious twist.

The acting was stiff and atrocious, and the plot was rather weak. Bill Pullman, a fine actor, was really really bad here. I don't know if he didn't care or what, but his performance was laughable.

The directing and signature flare was there, which served to help the film a little. And the violent scenes were graphic and shot very well. But overall, this film is a bit of stinker. Not impressed...
Super Reviewer
½ October 2, 2009
A ridiculously long, revolting, and overall unbearable "suspense" film detailing the investigation of murders involving very uninteresting and morally depraved people. If director Lynch could give us both a plot that is remotely intriguing and one person to care about, this might've fallen under "okay" territory. Instead, this is one of the longest hour and a half movie I've possibly ever seen. With exception to Pullman and Ormond, the acting is pretty horrific, and a subplot involving two very twisted and corrupt cops feels very unrealistic and over-exaggerated. This is yet another movie that relies completely on its "twist" ending, which isn't as jolting or surprising as critics make it out to be. The two biggest things that make David Lynch's movies watchable are his feel for atmosphere as well as making his story interesting. His daughter Jennifer still has a lot to learn, apparently.
Super Reviewer
½ July 1, 2009
For a crime movie, this was actually really good. Lots of characters, but very easy to follow, which made a nice change in this genre. Original story too and acting convincing. Particularly Pell James and Ryan Simpkins.
Super Reviewer
August 25, 2009
I hate movies like this where you have two people who do what they do for no appearent reason and your left thinking well what is the point to this movie are they kiling because they can??
although nicely acted and quite amusing it was as i predicted from the beginning its exciting and action then the middle is drawn out and the end shit!
it surprises me movies like this get the funding wen clearly they cant make much money from cinemas and dvd sales!
aste of space movie and waste of time!
Super Reviewer
August 21, 2009
wow man... wow. it really makes me wonder if everyone really shouts "fuck" when they see someone get shot. i mean that was pretty much... half the movie? someone gets shot and then, "FUCK!!" also 2 of the dumbest lines ive ever heard:1) after a girls friend gets hit by a car, she gets pissed and tries to fight the guy who hit him. "HEY FUCKWAD YOU JUST KILLED MY BEST FUCKING FRIEND!!" and 2) right before a woman gets shot, she says something like "I am NOT having a good time!" ....yea .... i mean i know the director came out of David Lynch's sick, sadistic ballsack but cmon.
Super Reviewer
May 24, 2009
"I'm not... having... a very good time."

Jennifer Lynch has surely inherited her father's, one of the most eccentric directors of all time, David Lynch's talents for filmmaking. 'Surveillance' is her second film, she made 'Boxing Helena' back in '93. Haven't seen it and will probably pass but I'm glad I watched this one.

It seems odd to me that, here in Finland I got to watch this on DVD but in the States it has only been screened at some festivals and will have a limited release in July. And the DVD is only on pre-order! I guess it may prove that this film is not for everyone...

I can't remember when was the last time I saw a film that surprised me as 'Surveillance' did. It starts as an usual "FBI ivestigates serial killings" and does have a pretty slow start. I almost gave up on the movie, thought that this would be a waste of time but like I said earlier, if you give the film a chance, you'll be thoroughly surprised and entertained.

'Surveillance' gives an entirely new meaning to "Protect and Serve". Good cop bad cop scenes are usually so full of clichés but in this movie, Lynch has taken the whole thing a bit further. I've never seen cops as brutal and crazy as in 'Surveillance'. Guess living and working in some yokel environment may mess up your mind...

The actors, who are mostly well known actors, perform well in their roles. Some surprising names in the cast, mainly French Stewart, who's best known for his role in '3rd Rock From the Sun' TV series. Didn't know he could act such an asshole on screen. Michael Ironside gives always credibility to any movie he's involved in. The two lead actors, Julia Ormond and Bill Pullman have both worked with David Lynch before so Jennifer probably knew what she was getting. Bill Pullman was nice to look at again. I like him in these smaller, indier films, not as a superhero "fighter pilot turned US president" as in 'ID4'.

Pretty much everything looks and feels minimalistic. The cinematography is very impressive with a rough image. The acting is solid, may go a bit over the top in the end when the plot twist occurs but it doesn't have a bad effect on the outcome of the movie. I've always been a huge fan of indie and I'd like to see more of films like this. Films that obviously have a small budget but a huge factor of entertainment.

'Surveillance' deserves a chance. If you haven't seen it or even heard of it, I recommend you to remember Jennifer Lynch and 'Surveillance'. The film may not be suitable for all but those who are tired of seeing those totally unsurprising movies, this movie is definitely for you.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2010
In "Surveillance," FBI Agents Anderson(Julia Ormond) and Hallaway(Bill Pullman) are in pursuit of spree killers who have recently struck again near a small town, leaving only three survivors that they want to talk to for any information they can provide. However, they are not exactly the most trustworthy of witnesses. To start, Stephanie(Ryan Simpkins) is a little girl in a state of shock. Bobbi(Pell James) is a drug addict. Police officer Bennett(Kent Harper), who was wounded in the attack, would be able to provide the clearest recollection if he did not have something to hide himself.

"Surveillance" is all about first impressions which is important. And my first impression from this movie in its opening montage was to expect a run of the mill slasher movie and I was not that far off the mark, as like most of its ilk, a certain nasty strain of nihilism rules the day. To be fair, there are a couple of neat exchanges, like the opening one between the two FBI agents. So, you can see there is a certain intelligence at work here but it is a very condescending one. Not only does the movie think it is smarter than it actually is, but the filmmakers feel they are superior to the characters, most of whom are small town policemen who are simply drawn as one dimensional idiots.
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