Director: Joseph Sims-Dennett
Starring: Lindsay Farris, Stephanie King & Brendan Cowell
Synopsis: In the grip of grief following the death of his young son, his marriage on the rocks and nearing bankruptcy, Parker reluctantly returns to work as a private investigator.
Rating: 15 Duration: 83 minutes Release date: 10 October (UK)
Some films can be hard to pin down & analyse and when it comes to reviewing them, it can be difficult to muster up the words to explain what you’ve just seen. Observance is one such film. Directed by Joseph Sims-Dennett and starring Lindsay Farris, this creepy Australian made horror gradually builds suspense through close ups and a claustrophobic setting, while delving slowly into the grip of madness.
Dealing with the death of his young son and the downfall of his marriage, Parker (Farris) accepts a job as a private investigator. His job is a relatively simple one; hole up in the abandoned house across the street and keep an eye on your new neighbour Tenneal (Stephanie King). The task seems simple enough; take photos, keep tabs on the client and update your employer on your findings until they say the job is done. Unfortunately for Parker, things take an ominous turn when he witnesses Tenneal get into an argument with her boyfriend which sets off some peculiar events.
The setting and feel of Observance strikes a similar tone to several previous films. Mostly Rear Window and its latter remake Disturbia are profiled here with a young man who witnesses something untoward while spying on his neighbour, Observance also evokes some of the madness of Don’t Look Now. That sounds like Observance has lofty ambitions, and while that may indeed be true, it flatters to deceive for the most part even if it does have some effective moments and features a strong central performance from Lindsay Farris.
As Observance descends ever more into madness, it becomes harder for the audience to comprehend what is happening. This would seem intentional on many levels, especially as Parker struggles with both insomnia and his ever insular nature, but it becomes a struggle for viewers to keep up.
On one hand Observance can be seen as an inherent mess. Too intent to mix genres and too kind to indulge itself. On the other, it could be commended for doing something a little different; trying to scare and unsettle through its own deranged sensibility instead of using the modern Hollywood approach of an over use of effects, and wants to break you down bit by bit instead of including a jump scare every 10 minutes.
It does pain me to be too critical of Observance. It has many endearing qualities and is visually a striking effort and should be applauded for what is a very dignified effort. Yet, it feels far too frustrating at times and will leave you wondering what happened to the rest of the film after an intriguing start. Mark this one in the interesting failures category.
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