“Who’s watching Oliver” will certainly not be appreciated by everyone. It’s a film about voyeurism, sadism and total insanity. At first sight, the film seems meaningless in terms of content. But as the film progresses, you’ll conclude it contains a more pronounced message. The moment Oliver (Russell Geoffrey Banks) begins to abuse and torture a girl like a madman, under the watchful eye of his authoritarian mother (Margaret Roche), who’s watching the whole show via a webcam, you assume that this is the umpteenth morbid torture film. But as soon as the handsome Sophia (Sara Malakul Lane) comes into the picture, the storyline tilts slightly. From that moment on it is no longer the Oliver who has to tolerate the whims of his mother, routinely take his two pills and goes off to search his next victim. No. Now he’s the Oliver who realizes that there may be a way out of this violent existence.
Now that’s what I call crazy …
Is “Who’s watching Oliver” an excellent film? Well, I wouldn’t say that. But it’s a damn shocking and confusing film. Needless to say that I found the acting performance of Russell Geoffrey Banks sublime. The way he portrays Oliver is magisterial. That foolish expression on his face with his protruding lower jaw and crooked teeth. His silly glasses and backward combed greasy hair. The retarded mumbling and the in-mouth muttering. All this makes him look like a mentally disturbed individual. And the moment he bursts out laughing is both touching and frightening at the same time. The laughter of a fool or a schizophrenic madman. It’s also obvious that Oliver’s condition is directly related to his mother because she’s on the same level. Also a totally insane woman. Even though we see Margaret Roche only on a monitor. The way in which she addresses the victims in a denigrating way and laughs with them felt outright diabolical. And the moment you find out what happened to her husband, you realize just how crazy this woman is.
What does a fine looking girl like Sophia see in that nerd ?
And then you have the naïve and angelic Sophia who spontaneously seeks contact with Oliver in the amusement park. A place where Oliver comes to rest on a daily base. In retrospect, she’s just another restless soul who’s seeking comfort. It’s not that you get a pronounced explanation about her past. But between the lines, you can assume that she also knew a past full of abuse and grief. Why Sophia approached him, ultimately remained a mystery to me. The final scene provides a variety of interpretations. Will Oliver escape from the grip of his mother at that moment? Or did he find his “partner in crime”? Your guess is as good as mine.
A slasher film with a brilliant twist.
And there are more of those ambiguities. Why is Oliver wandering around in Thailand? And where does all that money to lure girls to his room come from? “Who’s watching Oliver” is such a film where you as a viewer can’t predict which direction it’ll go. But if you leave out the explicit nude and bloody scenes, a fragile love story remains. But in a bizarre way. Everything feels rather absurd. Especially with that cheerful jazzy music playing while Oliver chopping up the dead bodies. And the daily trip to the amusement park in this Asian country emphasizes the absurdity of the whole. For those who love slasher films with a psychopathic character whose ruthless behavior causes bloody situations, this is definitely a must see. But this flick gives it a brilliant twist as well. Therefore it’s no surprise this film has already won some rewards at a few film festivals.
My rating 6/10
M. Night Shyamalan | Old – Official Trailer
A thriller about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly reducing their entire lives into a single day.
July 23, 2021
M. Night Shyamalan
Rufus Sewell, Thomasin McKenzie, Embeth Davidtz, Eliza Scanlen, Abbey Lee, Alex Wolff, Gael García Bernal
A Quiet Place Part II | Review
This review is spoiler-free.
It’s not often that a film comes along and demands to be seen on the big screen, creating a cinematic experience unlike any other and that’s something the Quiet Place films definitely do. I may have learnt this the hard way, by watching the first film on a plane and not really enjoying it, only to re-watch it again at home and really like it. But now, seeing A Quiet Place Part II in an IMAX cinema, having not been in a cinema for months, it is truly a spectacular cinematic event.
After a brief flashback sequence to when the creatures first arrived, A Quiet Place Part II picks up exactly where the first film left off. If you’ve seen the first, you’ll know that it ended in a very exciting position and now we witness the Abbott family struggling to navigate and struggling to survive in the post-apocalyptic world, ravaged by monsters that hunt by sound.
AQP2 is a really tense and engaging thriller film however it never quite reaches the heights that its predecessor did. The first film managed to create a level of immense tension and sustain that pretty much the entire way through the film’s runtime. Here, it feels like there were certain scenes that were very tense and have you squirming in your seat but the bits between these scenes lack the same sense of dread and fear that the first did and in that sense the sequel is not quite as tight as the first.
At just 97 minutes long, it’s only 7 minutes longer than the first but it does feel quite a bit longer. The first film goes by in a flash and it’s over before you know it and whilst AQP2 doesn’t feel overly long, the pacing of it makes you notice the runtime that bit more than the first film.
There are a few very suspenseful and scary moments in it, particularly the opening flashback scene to the Abbott family’s first encounter with the creatures. In fact, even that pesky nail from the first film makes a small cameo here but what stands out so much and what makes it a real ‘cinema film’ is the fantastic sound design. Every single time one of the creatures is even remotely near one of the main characters or any time that the creatures just might be nearby, the sound design completely draws you into it and makes you feel like you’re there and that’s what makes these frightening moments all the more impactful.
A lot of the criticisms and faults with A Quiet Place Part II do largely come from the fact that it’s not as good as the first and it’s weaker by comparison, but it’s still a very smart and entertaining film that provides some genuine chills. The concept of creatures that hunt on sound is such a great idea and it plays out on screen so well. Every single time one of the main characters make even the slightest noise your heart stops and your hold your breath, waiting to see if the creatures are going to show up and if our heroes will meet their untimely demise.
One issue I had with the film was that you could always tell where the next scare was going to come from. The film is by no means predictable, it just sticks to some generic tropes and it’s clear where it’s going. Everyone knows in a scary situation in a horror movie you don’t split up. But that doesn’t stop our protagonists from doing so and it’s small details like that that when they happen you can immediately tell the consequences of certain actions will crop up again a few scenes later. But even when that payoff comes it’s still shocking and the film still delivers in the thrills and scares that you want from a film like this.
A Quiet Place Part II is a riveting and frightening film and whilst it doesn’t quite match the level of tension achieved in the first, it is nonetheless a hugely entertaining film and one that you absolutely must see on the biggest screen you can.
A Quiet Place Part II is released in UK cinemas on June 3
A Quiet Place Part 2 – Movie Review
Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realise the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path. Luke Hearfield gives his thoughts on the long-awaited sequel once again directed by John Krasinski and starring his real life wife Emily Blunt. It’s time to head back to the cinema and enjoy the experience of sitting in a room full of strangers and sharing the collective feeling of deliciously uncomfortable silence.
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