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Otis (2008)

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Director:
Tony Krantz Tony Krantz
Starring:
Tarah Paige Tarah Paige
Bostin Christopher Bostin Christopher
Ashley Johnson Ashley Johnson
Tracy Scoggins Tracy Scoggins
Illeana Douglas Illeana Douglas

5.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Horror, Horror Comedy, Sadistic Horror
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Review by Chad
Added: July 19, 2008
Finally, after three years of imitators and duplications, someone has done something original with the "torture porn" genre. Yes, it was Saw that brought this sort of thing into the mainstream and made it popular again, and ever since its release, filmmakers have been trying to copy that formula and bring home a piece of that action. Some have been good and some have even been great, but the vast majority of those releases lacked the one thing that transforms a great film into a classic: originality. Otis carts this key element to the table in a wheelbarrow, and for the most part, I couldn't have been happier with the end result.

Much like the aforementioned torture porn clones, this film begins with a woman chained to the floor by her foot in a dingy little dungeon of some sort with a hulking man watching her from another room on a security monitor. Otis Broth (Bostin Christopher) is the man, and we quickly realize that he is playing some sort of game with this helpless young lady; he calls her by a name that isn't hers, he talks about taking her to the prom, and he even asks if the thought of going to said prom with him makes her wet. After more psychological torture of this nature, the heroine in distress finally snaps, which angers Otis so much that he barges into the room and attempts to punish her... only, instead of roughing her up a little bit, he accidentally kills her. Whoops.

So, our lovable leading man is in need of a new date for the prom that will take place in his basement, and what do you know - while delivering a pizza to a dysfunctional suburban family, he meets the girl of his dreams. Riley Lawson (Ashley Johnson) may not know that she's the object of his affection just yet since her interaction with this man consisted of paying for the pizza and giving him a tip, but that doesn't matter as Otis has picked her to be his new prom queen, and bright and early the next morning, he kidnaps her and chains her up in his basement.

Understandably upset, Riley's family - father Will (Daniel Stern), mother Kate (Illeana Douglas), and brother Reed (Jared Kusnitz) - calls in the FBI, who promptly send out the best of the best to crack the case. Actually, they send the arrogant and a-step-above-incompetent Agent Hotchkiss (Jere Burns), a man who probably won't solve any cases in his time, but he'll almost certainly get in the way and ruin their chances of ever seeing their daughter alive again. Meanwhile, Riley is being held captive by the delusional Otis, and things just get more and more bizarre as the film progresses.

In the average torture porn flick, the film would end in one of two basic ways: either Otis would torture Riley to death, or she'd manage to escape her binds and engage in a final showdown with her tormentor. Otis is not your average torture porn flick. I didn't spoil it in my synopsis (unlike other reviews out there and even the DVD case), but the film takes a couple of unique twists towards the middle of the running time which moves it away from being a horror flick with hints of subtle comedy into an almost full-blown comedy. This sort of thing usually doesn't work; I mean, a filmmaker can easily create a horror film, a comedy film, or a horror comedy hybrid, but making the transition from one genre to another midway through the film? That rarely works, but the guys responsible for this release made it look easy.

For the most part, I enjoyed the hell out of this film. The plot outline that I wrote up above barely covers half of the film, and the twists and events that pop up after that are extremely enjoyable and some of them brought a huge smile to my face. There's one particular scene in which Illeana Douglas receives a phone call from her distressed daughter, and when you hear what mother dearest says to her baby girl, a wave of realization sweeps over you and it's impossible not to get goosebumps at the thought of what will happen from there. Then, when you see this stuff playing out... well, it's hard to explain without treading even further into spoiler territory, so let me just say once again that I enjoyed the hell out of this film.

The only thing that I didn't enjoy about Otis was the final scene of the film. This ending seemed rushed and I thought that it was a cheap way to end the film (it leaves room for a sequel if needed, but it's "open to interpretation" if not), but what really makes this hurt is when you head over to the bonus features on the disc and see the alternate ending. This was a radically different way to wrap up the film, and I thought that it was infinitely better in its approach to providing closure for all of the characters. It wasn't a traditional ending, but then, Otis was not a traditional film; therefore, I was disappointed with the final ending that was chosen for the film, and I was downright confused when I saw what they left on the cutting room floor.

Of course, this is a minor quibble as the vast majority of the film was flawless, so giving the overall product a low rating based on the final sixty seconds of the running time would be silly. The acting is solid all around, the soundtrack is great, the effects are even better, and it was highly refreshing to see something original done with the genre. In fact, this would have been a perfect film with the original ending in place, but sadly, I'm going to have to knock a point off for the inferior ending that made it into the final cut. 9/10.
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Farley #1: Farley - added 07/20/2008, 11:28 AM
I watched this earlier in the weekend with my girlfriend. We both lvoed this movie.
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 07/23/2008, 07:07 PM
Very enjoyable picture. I hate that this film didn't receive distribution and I hate that it hasn't received more attention. Great little horror flick. 9/10.
Nirrad #3: Nirrad - added 07/23/2008, 11:13 PM
Holy shit! Daniel Stern!!!?!? I gotta see this.
Ginose #4: Ginose - added 07/26/2008, 11:46 AM
Humor beyond it's time and quality beyond it's publicity. 9.2/10
George Snow #5: George Snow - added 10/06/2008, 05:58 PM
I enjoyed the hell out of this. I just wish the acting would have been a little more believable. Everyone did a fine job, but they really played it more for laughs. and (IMO) it would have served the movie better to have it dramatic, emotional, and hysterically funny. This was an outstanding cast, and especially Douglas didn't seem overtly worried about her daughter gone missing. They said the lines, but there were no actions within in the scenes to sell it. The FBI guy EXCELLENT and hilarious. I blame the Director. All in all still better then most of the crap out there today.
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