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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Forget the character of Otis. Yeah, he's demented, calculating, and creepy in his own right...But the parents of the girl that Otis abducts...those people are insane in the best way celluloid could depict. This movie is certainly worth the price of the rental. But don't watch it thinking it's going to be a horror flick. It's got more going for it as a comedy than anything else. Anyone who is selling this as a horror flick is probably working for the advertising firm promoting the film, and they just don't know how to promote it as anything else. This film is hilarious, and is certainly a great show for a keg party, teen movie night, or just another Tuesday evening with nothing better to do.
Otis Broth loves pizza, Froot Loops and Kim. And Kim. And Kim. Multiple
times now he has tried to make a girl love him by chaining her up in
his basement and calling her Kim. His latest victim, Riley Lawson
(played by Ashley Johnson, perhaps best remembered from "Growing Pains"
or "What Women Want") isn't ready to die like the others. And her
family doesn't trust the police, preferring to take matters into their
I keep seeing the quotation comparing "Otis" to "Juno" and I don't know what to make of that. I really liked "Juno" and I really liked "Otis". But I don't know that they have all that much in common. The tone is completely different, the humor is different, Otis doesn't talk like he lives next door to Pacey Witter or Josephine Potter. I would love to know the reasoning behind this claim, as it seems a bit of a stretch. I see it as a darkly humorous take on other horror films -- but "Juno"? "Otis" has a rocking soundtrack (best of the 1970s), a dark humor that many will not appreciate, and takes on horror motifs of today. Want a girl imprisoned in a basement (like Jack Ketchum's "Girl Next Door")? Want torture ("Saw")? You'll get it, but without all the rape and gore. All of the torture takes place off-screen. Or, at least, almost all of it. Your imagination might leave you feeling grossed out, but the film doesn't cross the boundary. How do you balance rape, torture and humor? I don't know, but the makers of this film came as close as anyone probably ever will.
The actors were great. Bostin Christopher (Otis) couldn't have been cast better. Ashley Johnson (Riley) is both sexy and yet girl-next-doorish, alternating one scene to the next. Daniel Stern (Mr. Lawson) is a welcome addition, although one wonders where all the extra weight and gray hair came from. Are you getting older, Stern? Has Kevin McAllister worn you down? It's understandable.
The special features on the disc are decent. The obligatory audio commentary appears, which I'm always a big fan of. There's an alternate ending (which is even more grim than the standard finish, though not as satisfying). And there's an "Otis Broth Joint" (thanks, Spike Lee) called "Suite 16" that seems ready-made for placing on YouTube as a promotion, but is worth at least one watch (it's short).
Of the horror movies I've seen this year -- and it's quickly approaching 100 -- this ranks in the top three, alongside Ryan Harper's "Circulation" and Ryan Nicholson's "Gutterballs". If you see only one horror film this summer, I suggest "Otis". Warner Brothers and Raw Feed make a compelling case that horror can be fresh and new no matter how stale the genre seems to be getting with each passing day. How this skipped theaters and went straight-to-video is a modern mystery.
It was great seeing Daniel Stern & Illeana Douglas back at work. They are both great actors who deserve to be working more. The story starts playing out and you are unsure as to what type of film it's going to be. Torture porn? FBI profiler idolatry? Cat & mouse psychological thriller? ... Comedy? There are a number of nice turns done by the actors here. The head up his ass FBI profiler. Riley, the daughter. Reed, the more than a little disturbing younger brother. Kevin Pollak's Elmo Broth, brother to the antagonist. And finally the nut-job kidnapper/killer Otis Broth who amongst all the different dramatic currents still is able to imbue his character with a bit of poignancy. You'll notice a few holes in the story but, again, this isn't a police procedural that you are watching. Counter to that there are some surprises as to the paths that the characters eventually end up taking. Nothing especially distinctive cinematographically, stylistically or in editing. But it is a good film, and that is enough.
I enjoyed this movie greatly. There were times I wanted to cringe and laugh at the same time. A humorous and disturbing look at kidnapping, torture, murder and the family. All overlapping at various part of the movie. Don't expect the movie to make great leaps and bounds in plot and you will enjoy it. If you like some laughs with your gruesome visuals, you just might find this movie fun. Many of the actors you will know and appreciate from other works. All turn in a solid and fun performance. All want to play their part in the movie. They all seem to be having fun along the way. I saw the UN-cut version and it is not for the squeamish. Nothing like "Saw", but pretty graphic. What really sets this movie apart is the antics surrounding the production of gore on screen. Think "The Three Stooges meet Jason" and you might have an idea of what is going on in this little bloody, funny gem of a movie.
Saw this Friday at the local film festival and LOVED it. First half
plays ALMOST like your standard horror fare; second half is like Home
Alone with power tools: raunchy, painful, funny as hell. Without the
strong performances of Illeana Douglas, Daniel Stern, Kevin Pollack and
Bostin Christopher, the film wouldn't work half as well. Douglas is
consistently amazing, a character actress who makes her every role
believable. As she transitions from suburban mom to vigilante, she
never makes one turn or expression out of place: her morph is both
understandable and natural.
The film leaves a few ends untied: we never quite learn what exactly happened between Otis and his brother, but we're given enough back story to guess the rest. We also never see the original "Kim." Which would've helped people better understand the obsession.
Somehow, though, as everything is coming apart - it all comes together. Audiences in both festival showings loved this movie! I hope it gets distribution before Warner releases it to DVD this summer.
The 2008 edition of the SXSW Film Festival's 'Round Midnight section kicked off with the World Premiere of "Otis," the directorial debut of veteran television executive Tony Krantz. It would be redundant to state that this film is not for the squeamish -- just look at the screening time. That said, Otis is destined to join the ranks of Freddie and Jason among the most gruesome, twisted souls in horror movie history. The titular character is a rotund, middle-aged pervert who never quite matured past his senior year in high school. The pleasure he gets out of abusing the neighborhood's teenage girls has all the makings of classic torture porn. Yet writers Thomas Schnauz and Erik Jendresen have crafted a dark comedy, as impossible as it seems, and Krantz manages to keep "Otis" from straying into farcical territory. "Otis" is ultimately a character-driven piece, as the film's tone is achieved only with a careful balancing of performance styles. At one end are Bostin Christopher (Otis) and his "love interest" Ashley Johnson (Riley Lawson), playing their roles straight and chilling. At the other is Jared Kusnitz, as Riley's brother Reed, whose gallows humor provides many of the film's funniest lines and was clearly an audience favorite (Kusnitz' "Dance of the Dead" also has its World Premiere here this weekend). And smack dab in between the horror and the comedy are the parents, Illeana Douglas and Daniel Stern, who are the fulcrum. Veteran character actor Jere Burns leads a team of hapless FBI agents who throw the occasional farce into the mix. Add in the always on-the-mark Kevin Pollak as Otis' brother for more nervous laughter. "Otis" has an indie feel, with natural lighting and perfectly economical cinematography, relying more on powerful in-camera visuals than post-production effects. The soundtrack is killer (no pun intended) with Otis' high school years replayed over and over to tunes like Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper."
The twisted forty year old idiot Otis Broth (Bostin Christopher)
delivers pizzas and is a pedophile serial killer. When he abducts a
teenager, he calls her Kim and fantasizes that she is his sweetheart
and date of the high school prom. After killing his last victim, Otis
kidnaps the smart suburban teenager Riley Lawson (Ashley Johnson) and
brings her to the basement of his house, hiding the girl from his
brother Elmo Broth (Kevin Pollak). Their desperate parents Kate
(Illeana Douglas) and Will Lawson (Daniel Stern) have friction with the
arrogant and silly FBI Agent Hotchkiss (Jere Burns) that is in charge
of the investigation. When Riley escapes from Otis's house and calls
her family, Kate convinces Will and their son Reed (Jared Kusnitz) to
seek revenge and punish Otis. However, the vigilantes confuse Elmo with
Otis in their rampage getting into trouble.
"Otis" is almost a masterpiece of sick dark humor, with magnificent performances of the unknown Bostin Christopher and Illeana Douglas, very well supported by the great cast. The plot makes jokes with dramatic situations and is a sort of parody of the countless movies of torture that have been recently released. Unfortunately the weak open conclusion is not satisfactory and is disappointing. For my surprise, in the Extras of the DVD, there is an excellent alternate ending called "The Birthday Party" and in accordance with the explanation of the director, this would be the original conclusion of this movie. I really did not understand why this brilliant ending was not used. My vote is six.
Note: With the original "The Birthday Party Alternate Ending", my vote would be eight.
Title (Brazil): "Otis, o Ninfomaníaco" ("Otis, the Nymphomaniac")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is perfectly natural for the friends and relatives of the victims of violent crime, whether state-sponsored or as a form of private enterprise, to feel a need for revenge. This movie could have offered us an interesting take on this theme, as the parents and brother of a kidnap victim decide to take 'justice' into their own hands. What this movie should have done, is explore the difference between 'justice' and 'revenge.' For a while it looks like it does, as our bad guy isn't portrayed as a total monster. The first sign that there's something wrong with the movie is the cop who's in charge of solving the case. Any cop with his lack of pr talent would have been assigned to a desk job long before he would have had the chance to trample all over the feelings of any violent crime victims. It's a character that's so improbable that it can only be viewed as a complete parody. The actor playing him looks a bit too much like Owen Wilson to take seriously, anyway. The 'act of revenge' perpetrated on the brother of the actual criminal by the family of the kidnapped girl soon deteriorates into a totally unnecessary orgy of brutal and absolutely pointless sadism which serves no purpose other than to satisfy the rather base needs of a largely uneducated audience, mostly of a pubescent and adolescent nature, I'd assume. Movies like this do not really contribute to their education either. Quite the contrary, I'd say. But then, who cares, when you can make a quick buck? It's only 'entertainment', isn't it? I suppose the intended audience is supposed to howl with laughter when the irate mother threatens to put the toes of her own helpless and by and large innocent victim in the blender. I don't really see what's so entertaining about that, although it goes a long way to explaining why many Americans, some in very high places, seem to have no problem with torturing their POW's. They have been sort of programmed by 'entertainment' like this. I do wish the kids would stop believing that something's cool just because an older person thinks it isn't. I mean, I'm an older person and I don't eat crap (as in excrement, but I couldn't use the obvious word because it's prohibited, much like this movie should be) because I don't think it's cool and I suspect it wouldn't taste good. By the logic which our youngsters apply in approving a movie like this, they would now have to start eating crap. Enjoy, kids.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't even have words for how painfully terrible this movie is. The dialogue is a joke. It seems that the whole budget went to securing rights to great songs and hiring a writer for free. The characters interact in such fake and forced ways. WTF was one good thing about this movie? I'm not a troll, I just hated this movie. example: "F*** the FBI, let's call the cops!" The camera angles/editing added nothing to the story. The music and lyrics carried every emotion because the actors and dialogue didn't even come close do doing their jobs. What was with the parents cracking jokes and acting nonchalant when their daughter goes missing? I am now dumber for having watched this waste of time. One saving grace: the spoof on Nancy Grace when being all cold and factual when talking with parents. This movie took itself way too seriously and was a terrible miss. Spoilers don't exist because nothing was a twist or unpredictable.
Since the turn of the century, it has become very popular in horror movies to randomly inflict excruciating pains on people that are generally innocent and didn't deserve all the agony. Movie franchises like "Saw", "Hostel" and all of their knock-offs made us very familiar with the term Torture Porn and the nowadays younger fans of the genre don't get upset anymore at the sight of sadist devices that cut off toes or poke out eyeballs. Of course, when a 'new' gimmick in films turns out to be successful, it immediately gets exploited beyond normal proportions. It has even come thus far that themes like torture, child abduction and blood vengeance are processed together into a horror comedy! Yes, "Otis" is primarily intended as a comedy, but personally I still prefer to see it more as a horror flick with some light-headed elements. It's a surprisingly good HORROR film, with a couple of imaginative gore sequences and interesting characters, whereas the comedy aspects are rather lame and derivative, like obnoxious authority figures and character mix-ups. Otis Broth is an obese and pathetic pizza delivery boy; pushing forty and still under the strict supervision of his older brother who regularly comes over to insult and beat him. But Otis loves to escape into his very own perverted and psychopathic fantasy world, where he is the hunky quarterback of the high-school football team and eagerly anticipates to attend the school prom with his sexy sweetheart Kim. But his "Kim" doesn't exist, so Otis abducts pretty blond girls that he spots during his pizza rounds and subjects them to humiliating ordeals until they play along. When the foxy Riley Lawson manages to escape his dungeon, her family prefers to extract their own justice rather than to let the uncooperative FBI handle the case. "Otis" has a good pace, highly enjoyable horror moments, great performances from a terrific not-so-obvious cast and a downright phenomenal soundtrack! Anyone interested in classic rock and/or pop songs from Talking Heads, Quiet Riot and Blue Oyster Cult? As said, the comical situations aren't very noteworthy even though Jere Burns depicts a delightfully slimy FBI agent but the plot is solid and well- elaborated. The torture set pieces are often gross, but realized with splendid make-up effects. Recommended!
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