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It was great seeing Daniel Stern & Illeana Douglas back at work. They are both great actors who deserve to be working more. The story starts playing out and you are unsure as to what type of film it's going to be. Torture porn? FBI profiler idolatry? Cat & mouse psychological thriller? ... Comedy? There are a number of nice turns done by the actors here. The head up his ass FBI profiler. Riley, the daughter. Reed, the more than a little disturbing younger brother. Kevin Pollak's Elmo Broth, brother to the antagonist. And finally the nut-job kidnapper/killer Otis Broth who amongst all the different dramatic currents still is able to imbue his character with a bit of poignancy. You'll notice a few holes in the story but, again, this isn't a police procedural that you are watching. Counter to that there are some surprises as to the paths that the characters eventually end up taking. Nothing especially distinctive cinematographically, stylistically or in editing. But it is a good film, and that is enough.
Otis Broth loves pizza, Froot Loops and Kim. And Kim. And Kim. Multiple times now he has tried to make a girl love him by chaining her up in his basement and calling her Kim. His latest victim, Riley Lawson (played by Ashley Johnson, perhaps best remembered from "Growing Pains" or "What Women Want") isn't ready to die like the others. And her family doesn't trust the police, preferring to take matters into their own hands.I keep seeing the quotation comparing "Otis" to "Juno" and I don't know what to make of that. I really liked "Juno" and I really liked "Otis". But I don't know that they have all that much in common. The tone is completely different, the humor is different, Otis doesn't talk like he lives next door to Pacey Witter or Josephine Potter. I would love to know the reasoning behind this claim, as it seems a bit of a stretch. I see it as a darkly humorous take on other horror films -- but "Juno"? "Otis" has a rocking soundtrack (best of the 1970s), a dark humor that many will not appreciate, and takes on horror motifs of today. Want a girl imprisoned in a basement (like Jack Ketchum's "Girl Next Door")? Want torture ("Saw")? You'll get it, but without all the rape and gore. All of the torture takes place off-screen. Or, at least, almost all of it. Your imagination might leave you feeling grossed out, but the film doesn't cross the boundary. How do you balance rape, torture and humor? I don't know, but the makers of this film came as close as anyone probably ever will.The actors were great. Bostin Christopher (Otis) couldn't have been cast better. Ashley Johnson (Riley) is both sexy and yet girl-next-doorish, alternating one scene to the next. Daniel Stern (Mr. Lawson) is a welcome addition, although one wonders where all the extra weight and gray hair came from. Are you getting older, Stern? Has Kevin McAllister worn you down? It's understandable.The special features on the disc are decent. The obligatory audio commentary appears, which I'm always a big fan of. There's an alternate ending (which is even more grim than the standard finish, though not as satisfying). And there's an "Otis Broth Joint" (thanks, Spike Lee) called "Suite 16" that seems ready-made for placing on YouTube as a promotion, but is worth at least one watch (it's short).Of the horror movies I've seen this year -- and it's quickly approaching 100 -- this ranks in the top three, alongside Ryan Harper's "Circulation" and Ryan Nicholson's "Gutterballs". If you see only one horror film this summer, I suggest "Otis". Warner Brothers and Raw Feed make a compelling case that horror can be fresh and new no matter how stale the genre seems to be getting with each passing day. How this skipped theaters and went straight-to-video is a modern mystery.
The twisted forty year old idiot Otis Broth (Bostin Christopher) delivers pizzas and is a pedophile serial killer. When he abducts a teenager, he calls her Kim and fantasizes that she is his sweetheart and date of the high school prom. After killing his last victim, Otis kidnaps the smart suburban teenager Riley Lawson (Ashley Johnson) and brings her to the basement of his house, hiding the girl from his brother Elmo Broth (Kevin Pollak). Their desperate parents Kate (Illeana Douglas) and Will Lawson (Daniel Stern) have friction with the arrogant and silly FBI Agent Hotchkiss (Jere Burns) that is in charge of the investigation. When Riley escapes from Otis's house and calls her family, Kate convinces Will and their son Reed (Jared Kusnitz) to seek revenge and punish Otis. However, the vigilantes confuse Elmo with Otis in their rampage getting into trouble."Otis" is almost a masterpiece of sick dark humor, with magnificent performances of the unknown Bostin Christopher and Illeana Douglas, very well supported by the great cast. The plot makes jokes with dramatic situations and is a sort of parody of the countless movies of torture that have been recently released. Unfortunately the weak open conclusion is not satisfactory and is disappointing. For my surprise, in the Extras of the DVD, there is an excellent alternate ending called "The Birthday Party" and in accordance with the explanation of the director, this would be the original conclusion of this movie. I really did not understand why this brilliant ending was not used. My vote is six.Note: With the original "The Birthday Party Alternate Ending", my vote would be eight.Title (Brazil): "Otis, o Ninfomaníaco" ("Otis, the Nymphomaniac")
I enjoyed this movie greatly. There were times I wanted to cringe and laugh at the same time. A humorous and disturbing look at kidnapping, torture, murder and the family. All overlapping at various part of the movie. Don't expect the movie to make great leaps and bounds in plot and you will enjoy it. If you like some laughs with your gruesome visuals, you just might find this movie fun. Many of the actors you will know and appreciate from other works. All turn in a solid and fun performance. All want to play their part in the movie. They all seem to be having fun along the way. I saw the UN-cut version and it is not for the squeamish. Nothing like "Saw", but pretty graphic. What really sets this movie apart is the antics surrounding the production of gore on screen. Think "The Three Stooges meet Jason" and you might have an idea of what is going on in this little bloody, funny gem of a movie.
Saw this Friday at the local film festival and LOVED it. First half plays ALMOST like your standard horror fare; second half is like Home Alone with power tools: raunchy, painful, funny as hell. Without the strong performances of Illeana Douglas, Daniel Stern, Kevin Pollack and Bostin Christopher, the film wouldn't work half as well. Douglas is consistently amazing, a character actress who makes her every role believable. As she transitions from suburban mom to vigilante, she never makes one turn or expression out of place: her morph is both understandable and natural. The film leaves a few ends untied: we never quite learn what exactly happened between Otis and his brother, but we're given enough back story to guess the rest. We also never see the original "Kim." Which would've helped people better understand the obsession.Somehow, though, as everything is coming apart - it all comes together. Audiences in both festival showings loved this movie! I hope it gets distribution before Warner releases it to DVD this summer.
The 2008 edition of the SXSW Film Festival's 'Round Midnight section kicked off with the World Premiere of "Otis," the directorial debut of veteran television executive Tony Krantz. It would be redundant to state that this film is not for the squeamish -- just look at the screening time. That said, Otis is destined to join the ranks of Freddie and Jason among the most gruesome, twisted souls in horror movie history. The titular character is a rotund, middle-aged pervert who never quite matured past his senior year in high school. The pleasure he gets out of abusing the neighborhood's teenage girls has all the makings of classic torture porn. Yet writers Thomas Schnauz and Erik Jendresen have crafted a dark comedy, as impossible as it seems, and Krantz manages to keep "Otis" from straying into farcical territory. "Otis" is ultimately a character-driven piece, as the film's tone is achieved only with a careful balancing of performance styles. At one end are Bostin Christopher (Otis) and his "love interest" Ashley Johnson (Riley Lawson), playing their roles straight and chilling. At the other is Jared Kusnitz, as Riley's brother Reed, whose gallows humor provides many of the film's funniest lines and was clearly an audience favorite (Kusnitz' "Dance of the Dead" also has its World Premiere here this weekend). And smack dab in between the horror and the comedy are the parents, Illeana Douglas and Daniel Stern, who are the fulcrum. Veteran character actor Jere Burns leads a team of hapless FBI agents who throw the occasional farce into the mix. Add in the always on-the-mark Kevin Pollak as Otis' brother for more nervous laughter. "Otis" has an indie feel, with natural lighting and perfectly economical cinematography, relying more on powerful in-camera visuals than post-production effects. The soundtrack is killer (no pun intended) with Otis' high school years replayed over and over to tunes like Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper."
Just saw the movie premier of "Otis" at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin. Reviewers are comparing it to "Juno" albeit a much darker version. The similarities are there even tho the story lines are vastly different. Initially what appears to be just another slasher movie takes a hard left turn about 10 minutes in. Wit, humor, contemporary hip dialog, and the perfect ensemble cast take over. Every actor will be recognizable from other movies even if their names are not household words with the exception of Otis. Otis, however, could not be more real or despicable! He is wonderfully evil, pathetic, and deranged yet still evokes sympathy from the audience. This movie is "ripe" for a sequel and will definitely have a cult following if it makes it into distribution. See this movie if you can! My friends call me Miss "Picky" for a reason and there was nothing to pick at in this movie. In fact, if you want a sure thing, see anything written by Erik Jendersen in my opinion the smartest of today's Hollywood writers. No dumbing down in any of his scripts.
Since the turn of the century, it has become very popular in horror movies to randomly inflict excruciating pains on people that are generally innocent and didn't deserve all the agony. Movie franchises like "Saw", "Hostel" and all of their knock-offs made us very familiar with the term Torture Porn and the nowadays younger fans of the genre don't get upset anymore at the sight of sadist devices that cut off toes or poke out eyeballs. Of course, when a 'new' gimmick in films turns out to be successful, it immediately gets exploited beyond normal proportions. It has even come thus far that themes like torture, child abduction and blood vengeance are processed together into a horror
comedy! Yes, "Otis" is primarily intended as a comedy, but personally I still prefer to see it more as a horror flick with some light-headed elements. It's a surprisingly good HORROR film, with a couple of imaginative gore sequences and interesting characters, whereas the comedy aspects are rather lame and derivative, like obnoxious authority figures and character mix-ups. Otis Broth is an obese and pathetic pizza delivery boy; pushing forty and still under the strict supervision of his older brother who regularly comes over to insult and beat him. But Otis loves to escape into his very own perverted and psychopathic fantasy world, where he is the hunky quarterback of the high-school football team and eagerly anticipates to attend the school prom with his sexy sweetheart Kim. But his "Kim" doesn't exist, so Otis abducts pretty blond girls that he spots during his pizza rounds and subjects them to humiliating ordeals until they play along. When the foxy Riley Lawson manages to escape his dungeon, her family prefers to extract their own justice rather than to let the uncooperative FBI handle the case. "Otis" has a good pace, highly enjoyable horror moments, great performances from a terrific not-so-obvious cast and
a downright phenomenal soundtrack! Anyone interested in classic rock and/or pop songs from Talking Heads, Quiet Riot and Blue Oyster Cult? As said, the comical situations aren't very noteworthy – even though Jere Burns depicts a delightfully slimy FBI agent – but the plot is solid and well- elaborated. The torture set pieces are often gross, but realized with splendid make-up effects. Recommended!