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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look43.75%
Just Average: 6.25%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 37.5%

2 reviews, 4 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"Ignore the DVD cover - the real action is with the girl's mother."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2008 BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL: I didn't think much of "Otis" when looking at its poster/box cover, but the trailer offers up more black comedy with Illeana Douglas than novelty serial killer stuff. Of course, neat trailers can be a trap; not many movies can keep the pace that such a preview promises.

Otis Broth (Bostin Christopher) is a serial killer. The press is calling him the "Kim" killer, from the name he uses for the young girls he kidnaps and holds prisoner for a mockery of high school dating when he calls their parents. He's just grabbed Riley Lawson (Ashley Johnson), and the only thing driving father Will (Daniel Stern) and mother Kate (Illeana Douglas) more insane than his taunting is the apparent incompetence of FBI agent Hotchkiss (Jere Burns). Otis isn't counting on Riley being as smart as she is pretty, or Kate deciding that she's got nothing to gain by remaining timid.

Writers Erik Jendersen and Thomas Schanuz have come up with a pretty clever script. It starts out with what looks like a torture porn set-up - girls chained to a bed inside what looks like a massive toaster oven, watched by a creepy man who dispatches an escaping captive in the teaser - although the killer is a forty-year-old pizza deliveryman obsessed with taking his crush to the prom. The movie takes a couple of hard right turns, though, and the movie winds up being less about a lunatic killing girls than the Lawsons deciding to take the law into their own hands. It's to their credit that the story can change direction a couple of times without ever feeling disjointed.

The cast is pretty good, too - Illeana Douglas walks off with every scene she's in, whether she's called on to be impatient, frightened, or half-crazy with her thirst for revenge. You almost have to feel a little bad for Daniel Stern, whose Will is far more reasonable but often isn't nearly as much fun to watch as Douglas's Kate. The pair both work well with Jared Kusnitz, playing their trouble-making son Reed, especially when it comes down to Kusnitz and Douglas playing nuts and Stern trying unsuccessfully to be the voice of reason. Jere Burns does the sort of smarmy and not-so-bright character he's long since mastered, and always delivers the laugh asked of him. Bostin Christopher does a good job of making Otis a little more layered than this character otherwise might be, but Kevin Pollack is kind of under-used as his more openly abrasive brother.

Producer/director Tony Krantz does a pretty good job of tying everything together; the movie looks pretty good for a direct-to-video flick. The opening set piece, with Tarah Paige as the previous "Kim" trying to escape, is a really nice piece of work (it helps that half of Paige's credits are stunts, so he doesn't have to shoot around much). He does have a bit of trouble settling on just the right note for the black comedy at points in the middle, especially with one sequence that extends past the terrible mistake being funny (in a nasty way) without quite becoming horrifying.

That's part of the risk with a movie like "Otis", though; switching directions like it does isn't always smooth. It makes up for much of its awkwardness by the end, and the dark comedy angle winds up being more entertaining than the serial killer movie this initially appears to be.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17156&reviewer=371
originally posted: 03/31/08 09:30:05
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Boston Underground Film Festival For more in the 2008 Boston Underground Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/02/09 Corky Only passably funny, but I could't stop watching... 3 stars
8/25/08 dr satan dry humor horror u cant go wrong this movie kicks ass 5 stars
6/11/08 Ash Best revenge flick I've seen since The Last House on the Left 4 stars
4/19/08 Jeff Seastone I really liked this film. Twisted and disturbingly funny. Bostin Christopher is GREAT! 5 stars
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  DVD: 10-Jun-2008



Directed by
  Tony Krantz

Written by
  Thomas Schnauz
  Erik Jendresen

  Daniel Stern
  Illeana Douglas
  Kevin Pollak
  Jere Burns

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