Wonderful camera techniques, but lacking an interesting story. ** (out of four).
SURVEILLANCE / (2000) ** (out of four)
Directed, produced, written, photographed, and edited by Bradley Grossman and Debra Matlock. Not Rated (contains language and some sexual content).
By Blake French:
Bradley Grossman and Debra Matlock's "Surveillance" has inventive and effective filmmaking techniques but does not have a story in which the audience can become involved. According to information supplied in a press kit, the filmmakers first came up with the idea of constructing a digital video production using only hidden and security cameras, then they decided a detective story would be inevitable. There is no "narrative" camera in the film, nor is there a soundtrack unless it is supplied on an identified object, like a car radio. Bradley Grossman and Debra Matlock did a great job capturing a story with various camera procedures, but more time was needed on the story itself.
The Story is about a complicated case of Los Angeles private investigator Trip Stevens (Stephen Triplett). He gets in over his head when a young woman, Junis Rozma (Jacqueline Carroll) comes to him from Kentucky to find her missing brother, C. Fred (Michael Mewborne). Trip soon finds the individual dead, and himself communicating with several business colleges to help him solve this murder case. They include Caz (Casper Poyck), a surveillance expert, Dava (Piper Henry), a photographer, and Maxima (Tracy Talavera) a special weapons authority. In the midst of all of this is the exhausted cliché involving the detective and his client falling in love, while her husband pressures her to come home to Kentucky.
"Surveillance" is more like a sequel to "The Blair Witch Project" than "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2." It just doesn't have an interesting story, though. It sounds somewhat intriguing, blending new camera techniques with a sly detective story, but the movie fails to entertain for several reasons. First, there is no style; such techniques can work for movies like "The Blair Witch Project" because they are original and atmospheric. The script in "Surveillance" has no suspense, contains no style, and takes the role of a trite drama. Second, a lot of the movie involved improvisation. Again "The Blair Witch Project" worked in that area because it was authentic and surreal. "Surveillance" is not. Finally, the characters are pretty much one dimensional, but how can they not be under the circumstances. There is fascinating technological experimentation here, but interest wise it is as if the production was doomed from the beginning.
"Surveillance" is not a bad movie, but it could have, and should have, been much better. The film was made on a microscopic budget of just $3,000 and took only four months to make. The sad thing is that it shows.
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