Directed By Matt Reeves
Starring Michael Stahl-David, Jessica Lucas, Mike Vogel
I first heard of this film while attending the Nashville Film Festival. The film was screening and the actor that plays Otis in the film was set to attend. The buzz around the film was really high so I was very disappointed to miss it. Now the film is on DVD so I’m finally getting a chance to check it out.
Otis tries to do a couple of things at the same time; be a dark comedy, and a suspenseful horror film in a Manhunter sort of style. The creators are actually able to bring in some solid character actors to make this film happen including Ileana Douglas (Cape Fear, Six Feet Under) and Kevin Pollak (Casino, A Few Good Men). These are both top notch character actors that you may not recognize in name but you’ll definitely recognize their faces when you see them. With those names attached I was even more excited to see this film.Otis is a pizza delivery guy who apparently has major high school issues, from several years ago. Now he kidnaps young women and forces them to role play with him in a really elaborate series of high school influenced set pieces built in his shed. He also likes to torment the parents of the young girls he kidnaps by calling them to ask permission to date their daughters and to do even more than that.
The sets built in in Otis’s shed are pretty terrific and his scenes with the kidnapped girls are well executed. Where things fall apart are in the comedic elements that are usually set among Otis’ new girls’ parents played by Douglas and Daniel Stern. The family scenes are stilted and usually just not funny. The family members are also highly underdeveloped and stereotypical. The film is on the fence until the agent comes in to help find Otis and save the day. This guy, played by Jere Burns isn’t just annoying because he’s supposed to be as a character, he’s also annoying in just how bad the actor is in the part. It might not be all his fault though because the dialogue written for him is idiotic. Ashley Johnson as Riley, Otis’ latest victim, is a high point in the film because she’s actually good.
Eventually the film twists to a play of Last House on the Left and at this point Ileana Douglas and Daniel Stern hit their low point. These are good actors gone horribly wrong. Kevin Pollak is good enough in his turn here but he has very little to do and absolutely no depth as a character. Overall this movie is pretty bad, I haven’t even mentioned the wall to wall nonstop music. The music is generic and smashed clumsily into the film almost nonstop. There are a few bits of fun to be had here but overall the film is just a big letdown.
The widescreen presentation feels basic in presentation with good color representation but some murky black levels making darker scenes drop in detail. It’s good enough for a low budget release, in fact it’s a bit better than similar releases.
The surround sound presentation here features solid mixing of dialogue, score, and sound effects but very little dynamic range and not much in the way of immersion via the surround speakers. It gets the job done but that’s about it.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
For a direct to DVD release this films gets a pretty posh presentation. The single disc comes in a standard amaray case with artwork featuring the leads in poses that actually represent the film rather than selling the stars, nice job. I expected floating heads of the name actors. The case is presented inside a textured slipcover with matching art to the amaray case.
There are some bonus features on the disc that feature behind the scenes footage, discussion from the creators, and behind the scenes footage. For such a low budget release the bonus features here are surprisingly well executed. With that said, there’s not a lot here but we do get is good.
Otis ambitiously tries to do a lot but unfortunately doesn’t quite hit the mark. Still, it’s worth a look for horror fans.
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10
The Movie 4/10
The Video 6.5/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10