“A boy’s best friend is his mother.” In Oliver’s case, she is more like a recurring nightmare. Always watching, always present, can he escape her?
“Give Mama some sugar!”
Oliver Is a Good Boy
Oliver is your quiet, shy next-door neighbor. Never mind that he talks to himself and has trouble socializing, everyone has quirks, right? Let’s just say he has quite a bit going on in his head these days.
From the moment, Russell Geoffrey Banks appears on screen, you can’t help but be mesmerized. His everyday routine of putting pomade in his hair speaks volumes on just how tightly wound and obsessive compulsive his character is. Never deviating from his daily routine gives him a sense of normalcy.
In the title role, Banks channels Norman Bates if he were played by a young Michael Caine. Oliver is like the eccentric brother of Caine’s Alfie.
Doesn’t everyone lead a double life? Aren’t we all masquerading our true selves behind carefully crafted fronts? By day, Oliver is the unassuming chap that takes a boat to a nearby amusement park shooting pictures along the way. The park represents his happy place.
Perhaps it provides his inner child with some comfort because oh, he is in dire need of it. You see, after spending a few hours in the serenity of people laughing and having a good time, he has to go to his “job.” His boss is incredibly demanding.
What is his chosen field? It involves picking up women in Thai bars and then taking them back to his place. Sounds like the hot life of a swinging bachelor, right? Far from it.
Luring them back to his pad with the promise of drugs or money is the easy part of his task. Here is where it becomes difficult. They won’t be alone.
Mother is watching. Like George Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984, her presence looms over everything casting a pallor on all it touches. Margaret Roche makes Norma Bates look like a pillar of the community.
Her Mama is anything but loving. Although she isn’t physically present, Oliver “invites” her via Skype to take part in the festivities because well, “Mama likes to watch.”
Like the physical manifestation of her son’s Freudian Id, she urges him to do the vilest things to his “guests” for her pleasure. Let’s just say the evenings do not end with the proverbial peck on the cheek or even a tender kiss on the lips.
Such is the nature of Oliver’s relationship with his Mama. Not wanting to displease her, he does her bidding over and over again, night after night. She is insatiable.
Oliver is an automaton. He is devoid of thought. Thinking causes pain and memories that he would much rather keep locked away. All of this changes when he meets the winsome Sophia.
Sophia is immediately attracted to Oliver when she spies him sitting alone in the amusement park. It quickly becomes apparent through their limited conversations that maybe the two of them have more in common than meets the eye.
Something is haunting Sophia. You can see it every time you look into her sad brown eyes. Sara Malakul Lane is a naïve girl trapped in a sexy nymph’s body. Much like Oliver, there is a child locked away inside of her that finds a companion in him.
Lane’s performance is captivating and endearing. You really want her to break through and rescue Oliver from his turmoil. However, does she have the mettle to stand up to Mama? Will she be the one to banish his demons for good?
I am regularly bemoaning the state of movies and what they have become. Every time I read the trades it is reboot, remake, sequel, prequel and the annoying list goes on and on. However, Who’s Watching Oliver has given me a glimmer of hope that creative filmmaking still exists.
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Part psychological thriller in the vein of Hitchcock’s classic, Psycho and part creepy midnight movie, Welcome to Arrow Beach, this is an effort for those who crave character driven horror. Richie Moore who is making his directorial debut could not have found a better picture to helm.
He is no stranger to filmmaking having been a camera operator on the Hangover pictures as well as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Fallen. The script written by producer Raimund Huber, Moore and star Banks is clever and disturbing.
While the characters may have been seen in other horror movies, the domineering parent, the naïve girl and the emotionally damaged young man, Who’s Watching Oliver is a new twist on an old premise. Trust me, this is the type of film that will resonate with you long after it ends.
Look for this effort from Gravitas Ventures to be released on July 3 in the US and Canada.
Will you wonder Who’s Watching Oliver on July 3? Feel free to share your opinions in the comment section below. We want to hear from you.