For those of you who may be wondering, weirdness is a hereditary trait. Take David Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer, for example. Her latest creepy indie flick, Surveillance proves that she has captured some of her father’s legendary gonzo moviemaking skills. But whether or not she knows how to use such skills remains to be seen. Surveillance emerges as a good film — certainly better than most run-of-the-mill “creepy psychological thrillers” that seem to dominate the indie home video market these days — but it is far from perfect.
The story here involves two rather odd FBI agents (Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond), who arrive in an unnamed Midwestern town to interview three witnesses to a horrific county road massacre involving several vehicles, committed by two unknown assailants. The agents set up three interview rooms and go about conducting their interrogations, all the while filming them via video cameras.
In room one, we have the an angry police officer (Kent Harper, who looks like Scott McCulloch from The Kids In The Hall and also co-wrote the story with Jennifer Lynch) who's lost his partner (French Stewart — yes, it turns out that French is alive and well). Room two houses a despondent little girl (Ryan Simpkins), whose entire family was murdered (played by Hugh Dillon, Kent Wolkowski, and Cheri Oteri, who seems to get killed in just about every “serious” movie she’s in — I’m guessing filmmakers observed some of her really painful SNL skits and sought revenge). Finally, behind door number three, we have a coked-out junkie (Pell James) who recounts how her equally doped-up boyfriend (Mac Miller) was killed during the rural slaughter.
Surveillance shifts from one person’s flashback to another (no, it’s not an anthology film, in case you’re wondering). Naturally, all of the adults lie through their teeth: the crooked cop (who could become a decorated member of my local law enforcement agency in a heartbeat) evades the fact that he and his partner were shooting out the tires of passers-by in order to extort money from them. The junkie “neglects” to mention that a “job interview” she and her beau were attending was really a trip to the dealer’s pad. And so on and so forth. Only the little girl is honest, but her dejection and youthful age make it easy for the grownups to pay no heed to the truth she spouts. Very little information is ever given to the mysterious killers themselves — who are more like the common link between the three stories.