RELEASE DATE: Available Now on Blu-ray
WRITTEN BY: Joseph Sims-Dennett, Josh Zammit
DIRECTED BY: Joseph Sims-Dennett
STARRING: Lindsay Farris, Stephanie King, Brendan Cowell
After the death of his young son, a marriage in shambles, and facing financial ruin, Parker is forced to return to his job as a private investigator; thus begins the new Australian horror-thriller OBSERVANCE. Soon Parker takes a case from a mysterious employer that merely involves him watching a woman from the vantage point of an apartment across the street. Things go smoothly until the mystery man asks Parker to extend his time on the case and, in turn, his time in the apartment in exchange for more money. Hey, no problem, right? Wrong … dead wrong. You see, the longer Parker stays in the apartment, the stranger his reality becomes: dead animals begin appearing, wounds refuse to heal, a jar of black liquid keeps filling up, his son’s possessions appear in the mouth of a dead bear … You know, a Tuesday. As you may surmise, things get considerably worse for our sad-sack protagonist as reality becomes nightmare and questions arise regarding the connection of the woman he is watching to the apartment that he is suffering in.
Solidly acted and ambiguously told, OBSERVANCE is an entertaining, if somewhat clichéd and frustrating affair. The best way I can describe it would be, imagine REAR WINDOW’s scenario with a dash of Polanski and a sprinkle of Lynch and a whole lot of RING influences (that’s the biggest part of the “cliché” mentioned above). Sounds a bit messy, right? Well, it is, but it’s also visually stimulating and a touch vague, which works both for and against the film.
I enjoy a flick that doesn’t hold your hand and leaves some questions for you to ponder after the run time, and OBSERVANCE does that admirably, but its overall ambiguity has the side effect of lessening the actual sense of conflict of the film, resulting in the viewer not really becoming invested in Parker’s plight. That’s a long-winded way of saying you won’t really give much of a damn about the dude.
All in all, I would give OBSERVANCE a recommendation, but with some caveats. If you love stories with undefined, supernatural menace and storylines that don’t bread-crumb you through the narrative, then give this flick a shot. If, on the other hand, you like complete narratives without a lot of artsy-fartsy trappings, then steer clear of OBSERVANCE.