SURVEILLANCE, Jennifer Lynch 2008
Children are told to be like their parents, resemblances are not only physical but also in behaviour terms, sometimes I don’t agree but in the case of Surveillance there are plenty of David Lynch’s features, in fact he produces the film and his daughter Jennifer is the director. Similarities can be either good or bad, with a positive result here.
Surveillance is set in Santa Fe area, recently unsettled by consecutive aggressive blood baths performed by an apparent band of serial killers. Two FBI agents, Sam Hallaway (Bill Pullman) and Elizabeth Anderson (Julia Ormond) arrive to local police station in order to take statement from the three survivors from the last attack, and analyze their behaviour and reactions during the questioning so they are able to establish links and patterns for tracking the killers. Hallaway, by an audio video equipment which allow him to coordinate the three interrogations simultaneously, is able to address questions and obtain conclusions faster.
Tension between police and FBI is noticeable from second zero, being a police officer one of the witnesses, together with a young cocaine addict called Bobbi and an innocent kid, Stephanie, who has just lost her parents and older brother.
As questioning starts every witness explains their own experience of the massacre lived with their own issues to be hidden for their benefit, creating a puzzle that is getting solve and by the time it finishes seems that people fully agree on what happened bringing to an unthinkable and sudden end.
Very psychological thriller, it starts catching viewer interest immediately. You don’t really get acquainted with the massacre almost till the end, for facts are showed little by little. The starting point only shows 3 witnesses, few officers included classic Michael Ironside as captain Billings, around to assist during interrogations and the two FBI agents more concerned about the killings than the rest.
By the time interrogations start, the two adult witnesses are depicted as corrupt and fiends lying on purpose during the interrogation but also shocked enough not to realize what trap they‘ve been caught in, and Stephanie as the less affected of them, protected and treated with care for being a child, but also smart and focused enough to know what’s going on, which will help her extraordinarily.
Unfortunately the last part in the film is, in my opinion, a bit sudden solved and quite foreseeable, I expected something more shocking or even more twisted as it seemed it was going to be, and as usual few aspects weren’t clear at all, whether Hallaway and Anderson were real FBI agents, what caused their behaviour and what would they obtain for what they were doing.
Bill Pullman, a lucky charm for David Lynch, repeats under Jennifer Lynch’s commands with success. Undoubtedly he’s the best character in the movie and the most interesting one. On the other hand Julia Ormond is still a pretty face to me who does not contribute much to the result compared to the dope addict couple and the corrupt cops, whose stories help the movie not to be too dark and serious bringing some dark humour thanks to the technique of narration against the true facts showed by images.
There’s no doubt Jennifer Lynch is very influenced by her father. There are some non relevant aspects that in some way remind me of Twin Peaks. For instance the obsession for coffee, brutal murders, the action located in a small town with redneck characters, however as a difference everybody is very hostile and tension is constant.
I like the way the plot is not really introduced, which makes you be analysing any single detail in order to find out the root of the story, for audience don’t really know what has happened, and how the stories, totally unattached among each other, eventually complete and close the case.
What I don’t really understand is why nobody discredit’s the cops, who in some way caused the massacre by causing the 3 parts of the story to be involved and together in that particular moment. Would it be fear? I don’t really know.
Surveillance was awarded in the last edition of Sitges Festival and has been well acclaimed. I think it is a good movie, maybe not so big as to receive awards, but compared with other 2008 productions which are crap it really deserves to be separated and acknowledged.