Hey you. I wrote this Review Just for You because I like you.I also like pizza.
Russell Geoffrey Banks, Richie Moore, Raimond Huber,
The 2017 indie horror gem Who’s Watching Oliver is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for the faint of anything. But if you can get past the violence and gore, you may just discover yourself feeling more than you thought you would for a bespectacled murderer with deep-seeded mommy issues.
A touchy-feely-murder-y-blood-soaked-y love story? Why not?
At the very least it will keep your mind occupied as you try to expunge that disappointing Game of Thrones finale from your memory. Good luck with that. Maybe Oliver can help.
Oliver (Russell Geoffrey Banks, looking like a young Geoffrey Rush and Jason Biggs had a kid with Jason Schwartzman) has problems. Oliver takes pills. Oliver showers with his glasses on.
Oliver has a daily appointment to visit with his Mama (Margaret Roche) online. Oliver loves his Mama and his Mama loves him. Or not.
Oliver lives overseas in what looks like third world Asian country. Someplace with an active Red-Light District where the hookers are plentiful and are willing to do anything you want provided you have the money. It’s also a place that doesn’t seem to have much of a police presence. A place where someone like Oliver can operate.
You see, despite living so far away, Mama still controls Oliver’s every move. Oliver wants to break free, find some kind of healthy connection (you feel wary for the cat next door that’s always ambling into Oliver’s apartment), maybe find someone to love him.
But what Mama says, goes.
Whenever Mama tells him to, Oliver gets dressed in his best I-am-not-creepy duds, takes a boat to the Red-Light District along with a handful of cash. Many Asian prostitutes want to love him long time.
Oliver is looking for that perfect girl…for the night.
Oliver flashes his cash and picks up a hooker. Takes her back to his place. He then violates and kills her, all while Mama watches and “directs” via Skype.
It looks like Oliver has been doing this for a while now, as he seems experienced, almost nonchalant as he gets rid of the bodies. He doesn’t like himself; he doesn’t like what he does almost every night. But Oliver has to do what Mama says.
This is a love story. Really.
During his non-homicidal afternoons, Oliver spends time at a park. It’s the only time he can really get away from the spell Mama has on him. A pretty girl (Sara Malakul Lane) sits next to him. She introduces herself as Sophia and begins telling Oliver about a dream she had. Oliver feels at ease with Sophia.
Before you know it, they’re hanging out in the park together for extended periods of time. Before you can say “Norman Bates”, you just know Mama isn’t going to be happy about this.
But Sophia may have issues of her own.
What Works With Who's Watching Oliver
- Margaret Roche’s Mama is one of the scariest characters of recent memory (“Give Mama some sugar”). Though she’s only seen on a computer screen you feel her presence throughout every moment of the movie. Thank goodness she’s just a fictional character. Or is she?
- The screenplay by star Russell Geoffrey Banks, director Richie Moore and Raimond Gruber keeps the viewer on his/her toes throughout the film’s short running time. You may think you know where the movie is going being a seasoned horror movie watcher as yourself. You’d be right…and totally wrong.
- A star turn by Russell Banks as Oliver. Oliver is exactly the unhinged guy you expect in a gory horror movie, but Banks gives Oliver shades of empathy you’re not expecting even as you watch him commit atrocities. It’s a performance with more depth than the genre usually warrants, and you only hope Banks doesn’t get typecast in exclusively creepy roles just because he’s so good in this.
What Doesn't Work With Who's Watching Oliver
- The movie’s only real misstep is during an extended date montage with Sophia and Oliver. It’s oddly paced and goes on a little too long. It belongs in an entirely different movie, probably starring Hugh Grant or Meg Ryan from the 90s.
Who’s watching Oliver? If you can stomach it, you should be.