Dave Campfield’s directorial debut is an intriguing film that manages to look remarkably good despite its $30,000 budget.
The premise sees Justin Besler return home to live with his father after his frail mother’s constant demands begin to get too much for him.
His mother hassles him via phone and even makes a visit to try and persuade him to leave his father, but he shares some harsh words with her before attempting to settle into his new life in a home that has changed drastically in the 10 years he has been away.
His father, who is a Detective, has converted his house so that it contains 3 apartments. The residents, who include Vincent Calabrese, a garbage man and his foreign wife Larisa, terminally ill Robert Krol and the sexy Heidi Broonen (Felissa Rose) and her pyromaniac sister Sonia, all seem to be hiding something.
After Kayla, a girl Justin had only just met, is found dead on Justin’s lawn he begins to become even more suspicious of his new neighbours and enlists the help of his friend Scott. Scott in turn puts him in contact with Rick, a badass who will get involved in any crazy goings on if the price is right, or he can somehow manipulate the situation to his advantage. Rick soon sets up surveillance cameras in each of the apartments before trying to unnerve the residents via suspicious notes.
The film does have an eerie vibe to it, and genuine intrigue keeps you rooted to your seat as you try to work out the killer’s identity.
The cast are for the most part very good, but for a first time indie writer/director Dave Campfield has done well to net Felissa Rose and Desiree Gould in her first screen role in almost 20 years.
Some of the characters are strange, some suspicious and others downright unlikeable, but they are never who they appear to be.
It is obvious that Campfield has been influenced by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch, but his film never comes across as a cheaper version of their works, despite the fact that it technically is.
Whilst on the subject of technology, it must be said that the film, which still had to be colour corrected and receive its final sound mix, looked far better than the average low budget horror movies you see on the shelves in Blockbuster.
You may think that the premise sounds like a cost effective way of getting a film made and to an extent this is true, but despite lack of budget, and the fact that this is yet another mayhem caught on camera horror entry, it is far more original than the majority of reality TV inspired horror movies, and I for one was intrigued throughout.
Full of all kinds of little subtleties, many plot threads which you assume will never be tied up before the finale and a decent amount of suspense. Under Surveillance is a very well conceived idea that translates well from page to screen.