Two FBI agents attempt to clarify the murders occurring in a desolate region. They approach the witnesses of the latest incident with the help of the local police. All of them hide something and all have wildly different stories to tell.
Grisly murders occur in a small town. Two FBI agents arrive, set up their cameras in three interview rooms, and set up interviews of three survivors: a girl of about nine, a foul-mouthed cop with a bandaged hand, and a young woman of about 20 who uses drugs. Each tells their story as the male FBI agent listens and watches from a separate room: the girl draws for and talks to the female agent, the local chief interviews the injured cop, and two officers interview the young woman. As they tell their stories, some of which are inaccurate and self-serving, we see what actually happened the day before. Can the agents or anyone else put the pieces together? Written by
Billy Burke was originally cast as the character Sam Hallaway. Days before filming was to begin, he dropped out of the film. Lynch family friend Bill Pullman was then cast to replace him. See more »
The closing credits state that the cast is listed in alphabetical order, but Daryl Haney's name is listed after Kent Harper, Michael Ironside, and Pell James (despite the fact that it precedes all of them alphabetically). See more »
Scary thriller with an unfortunate and sloppy finale
Jennifer Chambers Lynch, one would assume had been nursing her pride from the dreadful reception of her debut, Boxing Helena. Fifteen years later she releases Surveillance. This one, a murder mystery, is a major improvement but it still has problems. It is a well-crafted seventy minute movie with a remaining twenty minutes of clumsiness, bad writing and a twist which unfortunately is predictable. The movie comes apart when it needs to come together, and the result is medium good, when it could have been very good.
FBI agents Anderson and Halloway for months have been investigating a series of interstate serial killings. The latest chapter in their investigation brings the stories of two odd-ball cops, a dis-communal family on a road trip, and a couple of coke-snorting kids, together in Rashomon fashion.
I like the way Surveillance plays out. Lynch keeps everything slow and mannered, unlike Boxing Helena which is over-blown from the beginning. Lynch is able to keep the film under control, but unfortunately is unable to pull the wool over the viewer's eyes. The answers we are looking for become obvious too quickly, making one question whether her intention was to have the viewer fooled or not. Survaillance is not designed to be conventional thriller. It is too deep and psychological for that, but it sort of ends like one.
If I was gonna label Surveillance in a word, it would be 'bitter'. When it's over, you come to realize that none of the characters (save one or two small roles) are all that respectable. Lynch's screenplay breaks them down into those who mistreat and those who get mistreated, sometimes both. On a positive note it contributes significantly to the drama or tension of the picture. There is a major lack of heart to the film, although at the same time, there is a certain lack of credibility as a side effect. Any attempt to explain may be a spoiler so I wont go that far, but that raises another question...
If I don't intend to spoil it, does that mean I am recommending it? Well, truth be told, I didn't dislike Surveillance. It is eerie and grim, which is certain a plus for a thriller, but the outcome is kind of disappointing. My advice: watch it only if you are curious, but it is not a movie that needs to be seen.
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