Dark Humor Undercurrent
But there’s also a distinct sense of humor running through Surveillence, undercutting – but just as often exacerbating – the uneasy tone. David is known for conjuring moments of absurdity that engender queasy laughs (his most recent short, What Did Jack Do? is him interrogating an anthropomorphic monkey), while Jennifer hammers on the accelerator, venturing past the point of “dark humor” and into more blasphemous terrain. (That’s a compliment).
For instance: after drug addicts Bobbi and Johnny (Mac Miller) witness their dealer’s overdose, they proceed to steal his stash, consume a bunch of it, and do a grotesque reenactment of the man’s death throes as they cruise the open road. Contrast that against Stephanie’s lame parents (Cheri Oteri and Hugh Dillon), as they sing along (badly) to an atonal song on the radio. And the needling bias of the local cops against the FBI elicits genuine laughs because Hallaway and Anderson seem so detached from trivialities of their blue-collar subordinates.
I love the contrast of the characters, all of whom are on very different life-paths. In many ways, the culmination of Surveillance‘s humor, no matter how innocent or dark, comes in the form of life taking a turn for the random. When terror strikes, it’s swift, awful, and disorienting. And when we come to the grand unraveling of the last act, we learn that some people have been building up their tolerance toward the horrible curveballs of life for a long time, indeed.
Whenever people on social media query their followers with questions like, “which female director should take on [adaptation/remake]?” my answer is almost always Jennifer Lynch. Unlike some male horror filmmakers, Lynch understands the inner workings of character and action and the muddy morality that emerges from “boiled frog” scenarios. Surveillance and her 2012 follow-up, Chained, may contain twists in the storytelling…but the twists are not the focus. If anything, the twists are complementary to the characters, which makes the fallout more devastating.
Surveillance directed by Jennifer Lynch is available to rent or own digitally via Amazon and Vudu. It is also on DVD & Blu-ray from Magnolia Releasing.
Are you a Jennifer Lynch fan? Have you seen Surveillance? Let us know in the comments.