Thursday, August 18, 2016

OBSERVANCE (2015) (Artsploitation Blu-ray Review)

Label: Artsploitation Films
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 86 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 with Optional english Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Joseph Sims-Dennett
Cast: Lindsay Farris, Stephanie King, Brendan Cowell, John Jarratt, Benedict Hardie, Tom O'Sullivan, Roger Ward

Synopsis: Atmospherically creepy and visually unnerving, Australia’s Joseph Sims-Dennett’s startling feature film debut follows Parker, a young man in the grip of grief following the death of his young son, his marriage on the rocks and nearing bankruptcy, but who reluctantly returns to work as a private investigator. His assignment it to observe a woman from an abandoned apartment, and as her watches bizarre happenings surrounding her, he slowly becomes aware that the derelict building he is in has a dark presence which slowly threatens to consume him. A frightening horror tale of a man spiraling into madness and reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s THE TENANT, Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW, and the works of David Cronenberg and David Lynch.

The creepy voyeur film Observance comes from Australia by way of distributor Artsploitation Films who have been doing good work bringing the best (and weirdest) that foreign cinema has to offer for a few years now. This one is a real creeper that brought to mind Francis Ford Coppala's underrated The Conversation (1974) by way of a David Lynch tinged version of Rear Window (1954). We have a troubled private eye named Parker (Lindsay Farris) who is hired to monitor a young woman named Tenneal (Stephanie King) for the span of seven days, tasked to watch her and report back to his benefactor, which seems a simple enough assignment. He is set-up in an apartment across the way from the woman with a great view of her place, but the flat they've set him up is real nightmare fuel, the place has faulty electricity and the walls are lined with yellowed newspaper, it looks like a place where nothing good has ever happened ... and what the fuck is that black liquid in a jar up on the shelf? Increasingly Parker becomes aware of the while not much is happening to the mysterious woman that a lot of weird stuff is happening to him, things not easily dismissed. 

He become increasingly obsessed with the beautiful woman, haunted by sexual dreams of her, all the while becoming more and more concerned about the nature of the assignment, of which everything seems ambiguous, nothing is clearly defined. Soon sores begins appear on his back, he begins vomiting awful black goo, and as his health and sanity begin to erode as he begins to spiral down a hole of madness, one with possible supernatural overtones. The movie brought to mind the early works of Roman Polanski like Repulsion (1965) and The Tenant (1976), with a bit of that David Lynch strangeness and some choice Brian De Palma tendencies, but without coming off as a clone or copy, all of these influences are swirled together into a claustrophobic concoction of weirdness, voyeurism and paranoia that made for a great watch. 

It is a bit of slow-burn that doesn't go out of its way to explain much to the viewer, which I appreciated, this is definitely a movie for fans of slow-burn weirdness. This Australian export is a high recommend, a thoroughly eerie and spellbinding watch. Fans of creepy slow-burn cinema like Session 9 (2001), The Tenant (1976), and Kill List (2011) are strongly urged to seek this one out.