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Film / Surveillance

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Surveillance is a 2008 thriller film by Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David Lynch, involving two FBI agents, Hallaway (Bill Pullman) and Anderson (Julia Ormond), investigating the three survivors (Ryan Simpkins, Kent Harper, and Pell James) of a roadside bloodbath. Over the course of the three interviews, a story unfolds where nothing is quite as it seems. The movie was known for being Jennifer Lynch's second film in fifteen years, after Boxing Helena, but also for winning the Festival de Cine de Sitges in October of 2008.


The film exhibits the following tropes:

  • Ax-Crazy: The killers Hallaway and Anderson.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Bennet and Conrad spend their day shooting out tires and then terrorizing the targets, claiming that their speeding caused the tire to blow out.
  • Creepy Child: Stephanie, though she does not do anything bad at all in the movie, is remarkably calm about the horrible murders she saw. She is also extremely perceptive.
  • Karma Houdini: The killers get away scot-free after killing everyone though they let the little girl go because she was on to them from the start.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The two killers wear masks that look like melted faces. A deleted scene shows that they're the result of Hallaway and Anderson randomly smearing latex over each others' faces.
  • Non Indicative Name: Surveillance really doesn't appear in this film other than Hallaway using video-cameras to participate in the interviews. Lynch claims that the title comes from "surveillance cameras, and 'how people change their stories based on what we see and what it is we assume about each other.'"
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  • Police Brutality: Bennet and Conrad enjoy getting their victims to grovel at their feet and beg not to be shot.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: While the stories that the witnesses tell vary, the footage we're shown always remains the same. Some details don't come to light until later in the story.
  • Separate Scene Storytelling: The testimony of the witnesses is displayed in clips in different film stock, and differs from what the witness is narrating.
  • Twist Ending: Hallaway and Anderson are the killers, and are doing the interviews to relive the killings before they eliminate all of the witnesses.


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