Who's watching Oliver tells the story of a mentally unstable loner lost in a life forced upon him. By night Oliver aimlessly wanders the streets and bars on what can only be described as a truly shocking and humiliating killing spree. His only savior and possible way out of a life he is desperate to escape comes in the form of the beautiful Sophia with her sweet eccentricity and naivety to the danger she has put herself in.
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Serial killer movies are a dime a dozen. In order to stand out from the crowd, they need a little something extra. Who's Watching Oliver
has that something extra.
Who's Watching Oliver
is about an awkward young man, of course named Oliver (Russell Geoffrey Banks from Ghosthouse
), who stalks the streets and nightclubs looking for women to bring home and kill. He does all of this under the watchful eye of his mother (Troy the Odyssey
's Margaret Roche), who barks orders and shouts encouragement through Skype on his computer screen. When Oliver meets a lovely girl named Sophia (Sara Malakul Lane from Sun Choke
), he falls for her and thinks that she may be the one that can break him of his murderous habit. But Sophia has secrets of her own.
Directed by Richie Moore (a camera operator on big budget movies like The Hangover Part II
and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
who makes his feature directorial debut here) from a script that he wrote with Banks and producer Raimund Huber (Dragonwolf
), Who's Watching Oliver
is a mean and nasty little movie. There's an immediate indie, film school aesthetic to the film that gives it a grindhouse feel. The thought that comes immediately to mind is that it's a twenty-first century Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
, only with the accomplice Otis character replaced by an old woman yelling from a laptop screen. It's just as disturbing as Henry
, too. It's not as mean spirited as, say, Terrifier
, but it's every bit as shocking and uncomfortable.
On the surface, there's not much to Who's Watching Oliver
. It's an A-to-B story of a tortured serial killer. It's only upon a cursory analysis that the viewer realizes that Oliver is actually the hero of the story, in a Patrick Bateman/American Psycho
kind of way. Oliver is a cold blooded killer, but his nagging mother and obvious mental issues make him a surprisingly sympathetic character. Add in the likability of Sophia and the fact that Oliver seems to desperately want to find a way out of his nefarious lifestyle, and the audience really roots for the guy. And not in a victim-kids-are-annoying, Jason and Freddy kind of way. They really want Oliver to be happy.
That's not to say that Who's Watching Oliver
is the feel good hit of summer. Far from it. It's a brutal and upsetting movie, and even the empathy that the audience feels for Oliver doesn't change that. But, Who's Watching Oliver
is a refreshing change from the usual slice-and-dice slasher fare. And it's got a snazzy jazz soundtrack as the cherry on top.
While Sara Malakul Lane delivers an eerily charming performance as Sophia and Margaret Roche is over-the-top creepy as the virtual mother, the real star of Who's Watching Oliver
is Russell Geoffrey Banks in the title role. At first, his visual appearance seems out of place. Banks seems too handsome to play an outcast like Oliver, so he looks like one of those hot popular guys in high school who would dress as a nerd for Halloween - take off the glasses and run a comb through his hair, and he could be on the cover of a fashion magazine. It's basically the same problem that Chloë Grace Moretz had in Carrie
; she was just too cute to be an effective Carrie White. However, as the movie goes on and the audience gets to know Oliver, they learn that he's essentially a boy in a man's body, his mental development stunted by his domineering mother - he's a modern day Norman Bates. And Banks plays the awkwardness up perfectly, turning in a gutsy and committed performance that is meek and timid one moment, and ruthless and explosive the next. He shows little restraint, which is exactly how a character like Oliver needs to be played. There's nothing halfway about Banks' portrayal of Oliver. He's horrifying in the role. And that's a high compliment.
There are very few of the typical loudness-based jump scares in Who's Watching Oliver
. It's not that kind of movie. The horror doesn't sneak up on anyone, it struts in and puts itself proudly on display. The movie is full of weird and uncomfortable scenes, gruesomely violent and extremely gory. There is very little left to the audience's imagination when it comes to Oliver's killings. The fact that his mother is screaming at him remotely the whole time just makes it all the more terrifying. There's nothing subtle or cheap about the scares in Who's Watching Oliver
. It's just a deeply disturbing, highly unsettling movie.