Observance Movie Review
Written by John Colianni
Released by Artsploitation Films
Directed by Joesph Sims-Dennett
Written by Joesph Sims-Dennett and Josh Zammit
2016, 90 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray and DVD released on August 2nd, 2016
Lindsay Farris as Parker
Stephanie King as Tenneal
Brendan Cowell as Employer
John Jarratt as Snitch
Some movies are as cut and dry as one could imagine. Their plot, characters and theme are clearly conveyed for audiences and ambiguity takes a seat. Sometimes these experiences are a welcome break from using all of your brain power to piece together story and motives and everything else in between. Other times it could be fun and exciting to be led on a roller coaster of emotions that, when you think you're sure you've figured it all out, the exact opposite is apparent. Whatever the case may be, the end result is to entertain and leave an audience feeling fulfilled and not like they wasted more than an hour of their time. Once that happens, there is little left that can be done to regain a viewers trust. This is the unfortunate case for Joseph Sims-Dennett's Observance.
Parker is a tormented man. With his marriage in complete turmoil after the death of his son, he returns to work as a private investigator. His assignment is to photograph and record the actions of a women in a building across the way. As he documents and reports his findings, he discovers that she too has her own hardships. As Parker deals with nightmares, not all is as it seems in the building he has taken up residence in. Is he slowly descending into madness or are there sinister forces at work with their own agendas?
Observance has a great start that is both visually stunning and vaguely intriguing. Parker's introduction as a character is mysterious and his job isn't apparent but you learn that he has been tasked with keeping up surveillance on woman who looks to be going through her own crisis with a man she is living with. Believe it or not but that's pretty much all you get as far as story goes. What follows are creepy and unsettling scenes where Parker is either hallucinating or experiencing what ranges from bizarre and horrifying to full on disgusting. He coughs up black sludge into a sink for no apparent reason. He's chased down the hall with a woman whose face looks carved up. There are dreams of him on the cliffs over a beach where he has a conversation with his brother in law and then the brother in law is suddenly dead. All of this is disjointed and incoherent. This is truly saddening because everything that you see in Observance looks fantastic. Special effects aren't held back in the slightest and acting is well above par when it comes to an independent feature looking to turn heads. Being pretty just isn't enough to save a non-existent plot.
Jospeh Sims-Dennett and his team spend a lot of time making sure that Observance has a fantastic appearance that shocks the senses and floods the screen with grotesque imagery. The story is a completely different case. What feels like it has an immense amount of potential just stops short halfway through the film and leaves the audience guessing what is actually going on, instead of delivering a cohesive plot. Substance without plot is exactly the issue with Observance and unfortunately ends up being a complete letdown long before the credits roll.