Surveillance Review

Small town corruption, serial killers and FBI agents – Jennifer Lynch’s second feature is in Twin Peaks territory, but can she carry it off with the same sense of the bizarre as her father?

If Surveillance brings to mind both Wild at Heart and Twin Peaks, there’s a good reason – it’s the second feature by Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David Lynch, her follow up to her controversial debut Boxing Helena. The surface characteristics are certainly there in the film’s storyline – the FBI taking the investigation of a serial-killer case out of the hands of an incompetent small-town local police force woefully unequipped to deal with a brutal killing spree that has claimed the lives of a family and a number of motorists unfortunate enough to have encountered them on the Highway. Two FBI officers (Julia Ormond and Bill Pullman) set up cameras and start taking statements from three survivors of the carnage – a badly shaken police officer, a young woman high on drugs and a seven year old girl.

The structure, pacing and subsequent developments are handled with reasonable proficiency by Jennifer Lynch through a Rashomon-style witness reconstruction of events, but although there are plenty of twitchy, odd-ball characters, the film fails to demonstrate that the director has inherited the Lynchian sense of underlying menace in the actions of corrupt law-enforcement officers and clearly deeply disturbed killers. While it’s perhaps unfair to compare Jennifer Lynch to her father, even despite the surface familiarities of the genre she is working in here, what is rather less forgivable is the failure of the film, having signalled its intentions well in advance, to sustain the tension necessary to carry off the rather unconvincing concluding scenes.

The Disc: Transferred anamorphically at a ratio of 1.75:1, the image looks fine but is not exceptional. The grainy, saturated 16mm look to the desert highway scenes is undoubtedly intentional and comes across reasonably well here, but the transfer is interlaced and movement blurring inevitably occurs. There are no problems however with the Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio tracks. Extra features include an uninteresting Deleted Scene, a quite different but really no better Alternate Ending, and the film’s Trailer.


Updated: Aug 18, 2009

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