Excuse me for a moment while I attempt to process what Iíve just seen. I have to admit that this processing process that I have been trying to do with the latest film from Jennifer Chambers Lynch has been going on for about four days now and Iím still not sure what to make of this movie or what I think of her movie which she has titled ĎSurveillanceí. Iím glad the womanís making movies though, because otherwise weíd all be in trouble.
Our movie opens with a scene abject horror and terror as a pair of masked killers are brutally doing in some guy and instead of simply killing this dudes wife or girlfriend or whoever she is, they proceed to allow her to flounder by running down the street in her underwear screaming her head off until they do something or another to her, with this something we wonít know for while. It appears that we have a pair of serial killers on our hands who have been traveling across this section of America randomly brutalizing people, with the terror in this small town being their latest bit of mayhem. To help the local, seemingly clueless police officers of this town the FBI has dispatched a pair of their top investigators in Agents Anderson (Julia Ormond) and Hallaway (Bill Pullman).
Though we were privileged to witness the first bloody slaughter the agents are here to investigate this and in addition another more brutal attack that we havenít had the opportunity to witness as of yet. The good thing is that there are a large number of survivor witnesses in this latest massacre and itís up to Agents Anderson and Hallaway to setup up their video recording gear and try to separate the facts from the fiction in an effort to track these killers down.
The witnesses who will be piecing together for us what happened that caused the brutal murders of about a half dozen people consist of angry and mentally deranged local cop Jack Bennett (Kent Harper), who has lost his partner Jim Conrad (French Stewart) in
the skirmish, not that youíll weep for either of these guys as they have gotta be the worlds worst police officers of all time. ĎManiac Copí thinks those two psychos need to tone it down. Then we have the drug abusing cutie Bobbi Prescott (Pell James) who lost her boyfriend in the exchange and finally little Stephanie (Ryan Simpkins) who lost her mother, stepfather and older brother in the afore mentioned murder festival, and is a kid who knows a bad situation when she sees one.
So everybody has a story to tell in their own little special way about what happened that day that caused all that death, leaving out a little detail here or there. But we get to see what really was going on. Except for the whole twisty thing at the end that blows the lid off of everything. At least in theory.
I will hand it to Ms. Lynch and her co-writer and the films co-star Kent Harper in that I didnít see the twist coming. In a sense, the way the movie was setup, I wasnít really looking for a twist either, but nonetheless there it was it was and it was somewhat surprising. I even hesitate to even call it a twist, at least in the classic sense since weíre used to seeing these things reveal themselves in a movies closing frames but here the movie exposes itís trump card with still a half hour left and itís this extra half hour that Iím not so sure about.
Before all that occurs what we have here a methodically paced film that takes its own sweet time going where it plans to go, a movie thatís bleak and drab in its presentation, and murky in how it presents it plot elements as it fairly effectively hides its hand. This is a film that is populated with interesting, if not albeit all that pleasant characters, and is also fairly engrossing to watch. You realize that something is going to happen and Lynch does fill the film with an overriding sense of dread while we are waiting for that something to occur.
When it does happen the movie kind of spirals out of control a bit, partially because this goes on for damn near forever and gets more increasingly difficult to watch and also because it really does stretch the limits of our believability. One of the things that a movie with a conclusion such as this one causes us to do is revisit the movie in our minds eye to see what we should have been paying attention to and what doesnít hold water and here this film hit and miss as well. There are some real nice clever twists that you realize were going on that were very effective and well placed, but there were also a few things which didnít make a lick of sense no matter how you shake it out.
So I donít really know what to tell you about this one here. Itís somewhat sick, twisted and subversiveÖ itís raw and unnerving, entertaining in points drawn out at other pointsÖ itís neither good nor bad but it is well acted and unique in its presentation and when you mix all that together you get a big old batch of ĎI just donít knowí. So there you go.