If you ever wondered what would happen in Last House on the Left if the parents exacted revenge on the wrong people and replaced the soundtrack with The Spanish Flea, allow me to answer: it becomes a horrible movie called Otis.
Otis is a mess of a movie. It claims to be dark comedy/horror, yet succeeds at neither. The only thing that shines through in this installment of Raw Feed’s indie horror canon is the filmmaker’s utter insincerity toward it’s target audience. Contrary to what they’d like you to believe, they’re not doing anything new. They’re not breaking new ground.
In brief, Otis is about a lonely, overweight pizza delivery man trying to fulfill the fantasy of living his older, popular brother’s highschool life. He does this by kidnapping girls in the neighbourhood and torturing them into participating in a mock prom he’s set up in his basement. The movie follows Otis capturing a girl named Riley, and how her parents and the FBI attempt to find her.
The problem with Otis is it’s just bad. The story is flimsy and incidental rather than being carefully plotted, and the characters are shallow mockeries (unintentional mockeries) of a bad 80’s movie. Daniel Stern plays the angry dad, who’s always frustrated and adds nothing new to any conversation, only yelling, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN (fill in the blank with whatever the last person said)!?” He essentially plays a bad copy of his character in Little Monsters. Illeana Douglas plays the worrisome mother; there’s the inept cops, the bratty younger brother, and Kevin Pollak’s portrayal of Otis’ bullying older brother who does nothing but yell. I’m not exaggerating. He never speaks a line, it’s always yelling. Which could be funny — if it wasn’t in this movie. But don’t blame the actors. We’ve all seen them before. This isn’t poor acting – -it’s bad directing and bad writing. But mainly bad directing.
Another thing I couldn’t get over was the soundtrack (both the actual score, and the soundtrack itself). I’m amazed Warner Brothers shelled out the money to fill this movie with classic 80’s music. Not just the garbage stuff – the stuff that actually costs a bit of money. Unfortunately I guess the filmmakers realized that the soundtrack was a highlight of the film, so Otis is full of montages where Blue Oyster Cult, DEVO, and Flock of Seagulls songs play from beginning to end overtop of nothing special.
As for the musical score? I don’t know why I’m seeing so many movies with BAD guitar rock scores. Ironman anyone? Has guitar hero made so much of an impact it’s actually ruining movies? Hey Hollywood, we don’t like guitar rock as much as we like hitting buttons on a stick while our friends laugh and Highway Star plays in the background. And in the case of Otis, it’s not even good guitar rock. It sounds like it was written by your older cousin’s bar band. But not your cool older cousin, the older cousin you think would probably rape your girlfriend.
When I said there is only one thing that shines through in OTIS, I wasn’t giving credit where credit is due. The second act is actually good. When we see the interaction between Otis and Riley, I don’t feel like turning the movie off. So I guess that part’s a winner (unfortunately it’s bookended with a cinematic jar of piss and a bucket of dead mice).
As well, a few performances rise high above the rest of the cast. Bostin Christopher’s portrayal of the title character is great. One of the only times I actually laughed (or even smiled) during the movie was because of him; and it came from him. HIS performance – not a pratfall or a ‘clever’ situation. Tony Krantz should thank him for providing the only time this film even comes close to hitting the mark. I hope another role comes along for Bostin to showcase his abilities, because it would be a shame if we could only find them here. Two other highlights were from Tracy Scoggins as the television anchorwoman (who is still hot) and Jere Burns as Agent Hotchkiss. They gave more to their roles than the movie deserved.
Other than that, I still hate OTIS.
And the worst part about me hating OTIS is, if – by some far-off – chance the filmmakers ever read this review, they’re going to think they succeeded. They’re going to think the accomplished exactly what they set out to do, patting themselves on the back thinking they’ve struck a nerve and the current climate isn’t ready for something as groundbreaking as OTIS. I know this because they say it in the TWISTED WORLD OF OTIS special feature. They ACTUALLY eat their own bullshit. They think they’re amazing. Some great self-congratulatory quotes are:
Screenwriter Erik Jendresen:
“It’s a comedy about a paedophile, (with a self-congratulatory smirk of how clever he is) which is just universally wrong.”
Daniel Stern on why he likes OTIS:
“I like human beings… what happens to regular folks.”
Director Tony Krantz:
“OTIS is a political film. It’s also metaphoric of our times.”
“We wanted to be the first satire of the torture-porn genre.”
That’s the one that really gets me. Being the first isn’t the same as being the best. Just make a good movie. I’m reminded of something George Romero said that I always fall back on: “Night of the Living Dead has been made 100 times, yet it’s never been made.” Simply put, if you have a unique vision, you’re never telling the same story.
So, makers of OTIS, upon hearing that I hate your movie, please don’t think you’ve won. I don’t hate you because you’re ‘edgy’; I hate you because you’re that loser goth kid nobody liked and I took pity on, only to discover a week later you’re actually just socially retarded, you swore at my sister, and you’ve been stealing my CDs.
You want edgy, funny, revolting, and suspenseful? Watch Chan-wook Park’s segment ‘CUT’ on the release of ‘Three… Extremes.’ He accomplishes what these guys never will, except he does it in half an hour.