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Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Little-Late Film Review - Otis (2008)

The comedy/horror genre is flooded with over-the-top slapstick crap.  Otis, however, is an entertaining, tounge-in-cheek but still smart thriller about a psychopathic introvert who captures and imprisons teenage girls, calls them “Kim” and forces them to be his prom date.  After Otis’ lovely fourth victim is accidentally killed in his captivity, Otis finds a new Kim in the form of Riley, the older teen daughter of Will and Kate, and sister to Reed.  He keeps Riley (Kim) locked in a cellar, chained to the floor, tortures her by turning up a radiating lighting grid and forces her to play Prom Queen.

Meanwhile, Riley’s parents have turned to the FBI to bring her home, and their help comes in the form of Agent Hotchkiss    (Jere Burns).  Hotchkiss is possibly as insane as the titular villain and the family becomes aware they may never see their daughter again.  He plays with a laser pointer during conversations, rattles off outrageous non sequiturs, and blurts out shocking possibilities as to Riley’s condition. 

Without giving away what happens in the third act, I will say that this film takes a very strange twist (as if it weren’t strange already) and it had, at least me, laughing out loud.  This is a very sick movie, but it is also very self-aware and the characters are all so neurotic or  just plain nuts that they bring life to a film that would have been a huge pass if this were a serious movie.  The little touches in the form of awkward moments and strange responses to very scary situations elevates Otis.

Another thing I liked about the film was Otis himself.  He is a pitiful man, dominated by his cruel older brother while he toils away in his home, spending most of his time monitoring his captive date.  The scenes where he is “courting” his victim are very funny, though a little uncomfortable (not in a bad way though).   He is almost child-like; Lost in the life his brother lived in high school, believing he was still there himself.  He dresses in a jersey and forces Riley (Kim) to wear a cheerleader’s uniform.  Otis’ setup, which includes a projected moving road behind a convertible and a mini-movie theater, is so extravagant that it makes you laugh at its absurdity even though you cannot help but feel sorry for him, despite the fact that he is a depraved monster.

I enjoyed Otis.  I found it funny and different.  It isn’t chilling, rather it appeals that base sensibility the great classic thrillers like A Nightmare on Elm Street managed to tap. There is a certain tone about this movie.  The mood was a little off, the events: more than a little bizarre.  It isn’t a perfect film.  It is a little sloppy in its direction.  There are a couple periods where the pacing feels a little slow, and the lengths some of the characters in this film go to for revenge are so out there, they are a little difficult to believe.  Still, for a bloody Saturday night horror flick laced with a few genuine laughs, this film is worth checking out.

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