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Otis
cast: Ashley Johnson, Bostin Christopher, Daniel Stern, Illeana Douglas, and Kevin Pollak

director: Tony Krantz

96 minutes (18) 2007
widescreen ratio 16:9
Warner DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart
You know you're getting old when you regard a film soundtrack based on the school days of a middle-aged serial killer as being quite superb. I mean a collection of classic rock tracks is exactly what every serial killer film should have. But Otis is more than a slasher flick with decent tunes; it is a funny, gory, funky and quite fantastic movie.

Otis himself is a middle-aged murderer who has never quite finished puberty, never mind high school. He kidnaps and kills young girls as he tries to create the perfect prom night with his 'Kim'. Over and over this happens until he finds the perfect girl in Riley Lawson (Ashley Johnson). She is just what he is looking for, but the problem for him is that his Riley's parents are not the type of people to let this lie, even after their daughter escapes.

In the parents we have the two stars of the show in Daniel Stern (Home Alone, City Slickers) and Illeana Douglas (Factory Girl, The Adventures Of Pluto Nash). Their eccentricity and vibrancy as the concerned parents of Riley is terrific, especially when their exasperation at the continued bungling of the FBI leads to them taking the law into their own hands.

Indeed, most of the cast put in commendable performances in Otis: Kevin Pollak as the bullying brother of the Riley's captor, and Jere Burns as the hapless FBI agent are well worthy of mention here, as is Bostin Christopher as Otis Broth. More than anyone though, the real credit for the creation of this peculiar piece should go to director Tony Krantz and the writing duo of Erik Jendresen and Thomas Schnauz.

You see, Otis is a couple of false moves away from being a bad spoof movie, but in the end we end up with a film which we don't know whether to laugh at or to watch through the gaps in fingers. It is a film that starts off almost seriously as a true serial killer movie, but one that ends up becoming more and more slapstick as time wears on and the family revenge element of the story kicks in.

Otis is a dark and fascinating movie; you'll laugh and squirm in equal measure as the Lawsons and the Broths go at it against a backdrop of nigh-on satirical humour, mainly at the expense of modern America. And, if you like it a lot, the original ending is a fitting finale and one that is so open-ended it almost makes you think the sequel is already written.
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