Surveillance

Jennifer (daughter of David) Lynch hasn’t made a movie since 1993’s bizarre pseudo S&M mess Boxing Helena. While Surveillance is nowhere near as bad as that piece of soft-core "erotic" nonsense, it does suffer from some similar problems of style, tone and scripting.

The premise of the film is that the FBI are tracking a pair of serial killers with the help of three different survivors – a drug-using teen, a little girl and a police officer. The problem the feds have is that they all tell completely different stories. Pullman and Ormond are the agents entrusted with the task of deciphering the mystery. They both give fairly good performances and handle the poor script with as much dignity and guile as they can. Through no fault of his own, cult character actor Ironside (of V, Total Recall and Starship Troopers fame) gives a disappointingly innocuous performance as the local police captain. His character has little to do and seems more of an afterthought than anything else.

While the perversion of authority is dealt with reasonably well and at some length – the local officers do an entertaining and disturbing “good cop/bad cop” routine – there is a huge gaping flaw at the heart of the movie. Without giving too much away, any moviegoer who has seen more than a handful of thrillers or horror films will spot the twist coming a light-year away. It is far too obvious and irrevocably damages the film. This is a shame as there are some interesting, albeit underdeveloped, ideas floating around. The acting is solid enough and at times there is a genuine air of weirdness. However, the lack of any real sort of motivation for the murders, limp dialogue, terrible characterisation and the clanger of a “twist” mentioned above renders Surveillance lifeless and ultimately pointless.

Surveillance at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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