Directed by

Jennifer Chambers Lynch




Written by

Jennifer Chambers Lynch

Kent Harper




Release Date

June 26, 2009 (USA) (limited)










Julia Ormond

Bill Pullman

Pell James

A critique by Andrew Abraido



Several weeks ago, thumbing through the seemingly infinite selections of Generation Y's sliced bread (Netflix Instant), I happened upon a film I'd never before heard of: 2008's Surveillance.  As my cursor hovered over the film, 1 out of 250 recommended to me under the "Violent Mind-Bending Murder Mysteries" category, I quickly read the brief synopsis and wanted to know a little more about it, so I clicked on it. To my astonishment, the director touted a familiar surname: LYNCH. Now, being a self-proclaimed expert on all things LYNCH, I was well aware that this was not a film by my idol, the center of my universe, Mr. David LYNCH...but alas, I was intrigued to see if the filmmaker had any relation to the woman who helmed this film. After about 5 seconds of research, I discovered that Jennifer Chambers Lynch was indeed (David) LYNCH'S DAUGHTER! At this point, adding Surveillance to my instant queue was a no brainer, of course I would want to see a film co-written and directed by the spawn who inspired THE LYNCH'S inaugural feature, Eraserhead


But enough about the background regarding how I came to discover this film. It should be readily apparent by now that this critique will be at the very least somewhat biased, due to the DNA of said filmmaker. With that preface settled, onto the discussion of the film.


Surveillance is a unique film. It combines character quirkiness and at times straight up over-the-top acting performances with mystery and intrigue that yields a product quite reminiscent of Jennifer's father's work. That is, if her father directed fucked up police dramas.


The story of Surveillance is rather simple. A string of violent murders in a small New Mexican town have escalated to the point of federal intervention, and agents Anderson and Hallaway (played by LYNCH recyclables Julia Ormond [INLAND] and saxophoning Bill Pullman, respectively) are on the case. Their task is to interview 3 separate witnesses of the same crime and come up with a coherent sequence of events that can lead them closer to catching the crazy serial killers that are on the prowl.


Most of the intrigue here comes from the night and day differences between the witnesses (an 8-year-old girl, a 20-something junkie, and an absolute douche-bag officer of the law). Each give their version of the events that unfolded on the afternoon in question in flashback form, which was done effectively for the most part.


Oh, and there is a bizarre plot twist that the film's entirety is hinged upon. At first, I was a little taken aback by a twist that completely altered the entire film...but after having the film sink in for a bit, I'm not as bothered by it as I once was. Call me blind, but I for one didn't see it coming at all...though I probably should have. It would be interesting to watch the film again and see if I can pick up more signs of the "development" earlier on, kinda like how we all re-watched Shama-lama-ding-dong's The Sixth Sense to see if we could tell if John McClane really was dead the whole time. Woops, spoiler.


So, that's pretty much it folks. This wasn't so much a critique as it was a public service announcement for my find. Die-hards (pun intended) of LYNCH should check this one out to prove that fucked up storytelling and directing is in fact hereditary. Though not on the same planet as her father, Surveillance is still an enjoyable flick by a one-picture-a-decade filmmaker that's better than your typical run-of-the-mill cop drama. The film could have been a lot better in my opinion if the gruesome opening credit sequence was built upon and the plot didn't rely so heavily on eyewitness testimony given to Sam Fisher/the bad guy from the first Free Willy (aka Michael Ironside). But, all in all, can't complain too much about this one...X chromosomes from LYNCH are better than no LYNCH at all.


One last closing note on LYNCH...he executively produces the film and has a song of his that is featured throughout the end credits. Guy is THE MAN!! A true jack-of-all-trades!



Bottom Line: 3.0/5.0