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Surveillance (2008) **

October 15, 2009


Surveillance (2008) poster



written by: Kent Harper & Jennifer Chambers Lynch
produced by: Kent Harper, Marco Mehlitz & David Michaels
directed by: Jennifer Chambers Lynch

Rated R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some drug use and a scene of aberrant sexuality.
97 min.

U.S. release: After hitting various film festivals, the film finally saw a release OnDemand on May 29, 2009 with a limited theatrical run on June 26, 2009

DVD & Blu-Ray release: August 18, 2009



Here’s a film I was looking forward to after the trailer grabbed me and I saw who was starring in it. With David Lynch executive producing his director daughter, Jennifer Lynch, I was thinking this at least should be an interesting ride. Well, it sure is. A pretty creepy one at that. I wanted a captivating procedural with maybe some added character study.

The film opens up with a gruesome murder at a motel in a small town. FBI Agents Hallaway (Bill Pullman) and Anderson (Julia Ormond), are called in to lead the investigation of a highway accident with multiple fatalities that may be related to the motel murders. They find themselves encountering the requisite resentment from the local law. The police captain (Michael Ironside) does his best to make sure his officers cooperate as they interrogate three witnesses. Each witness gives there own version of the events that transpired as the agents deploy their specialized training to glean clues that could lead to the identity of a masked killer. As truth and deceit are mired, Hallaway and Anderson press the witnesses, finding murder to be just one element of the criminal activity revealed.

At first, it seems like a modern-day, edgy “Rashomon” as we see the three different perspectives. There’s a pair of corrupt cops (French Stewart and Kent Harper) involved, a family on a road trip (Cheri Oteri plays the mother), and two junkies (Pell James and Mac Miller) all individually shaken up by the tragedy. It could’ve been a plot-boiler with noir sensibilities but instead Lynch employs a flamboyant violence similar to her father that bleeds into a uniquely twisted second half complete with quite the twist ending. It’s an ending that didn’t do much for me though. There just was not enough build up and misdirection for me.

I’m unsure why the film didn’t get a theatrical release, I could see it easily thriving in the indie theaters at least. I’m glad I caught up with it on DVD (I found the alternate ending is better) though since I always find Pullman and Ormand entertaining. While I didn’t hate it, I would recommend it for anyone who likes these actors and for the uneasy violations of authority. Lynch directs confidantly providing a lurid ambiance that is just as uncomfortable as some of her father’s films. So, if you’ve liked his films and are interested in seeing how close his offspring is to a familiar genre, check this one out.




Surveillance (2008) poster Russian


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Surveillance (2008) poster 4

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