Title – Observance (2015)
Director – Joseph Sims-Dennett (Bad Behaviour)
Cast – Lindsay Farris, Stephanie King, Tom O’Sullivan, John Jarrett, (voice of) Brendan Cowell
Plot – Tortured by a past tragedy, Parker (Farris) accepts a job from a mysterious client that has him keeping tabs on Tenneal (Scott). Hold up in a rundown apartment building across the road from Tenneal’s home, Parker starts to experience strange happenings that have him questioning the very nature of the task at hand.
Review by Eddie on 18/03/2016
Filmed on the director’s credit card over an 11 day period during the hottest heatwave on record in Sydney Australia, Observance is certainly a film that defies its beginnings and conception to showcase an impressively dread laden tale that displays a palpable sense of terror of malevolence from the first frame through to its last confronting and shocking finale.
Director Joseph Sims-Dennett crafts his second feature length film in a manner that is not dissimilar to films such as Rear Window (the spying and voyeurism), Ti West’s The House of the Devil (pacing and incoming sense of evil) and even Ben Wheatley’s Kill List (in the way it culminates into an uncompromising crescendo) and despite being largely confined to a rundown apartment building for a majority of its runtime, Observance never lets its tight confines strangle its atmospheric nature and intriguing plot that covers loss, mental health and a seriously bad fever.
On face value Sims-Dennett and co-writer Josh Zammit’s story may seem slight, grieving man accepts job that involves watching pretty women for a mysterious client, but like a large portion of other successful psychological and slow burning horrors, Observance draws the audience in only to confront them with some terrifying scenarios that are delivered in low key ways to make them that much more effective.
The major drawback of Sims-Dennett’s fine work however is the fact he hides the films heritage as an Australian film by having his cast led by the committed Lindsay Farris as tortured soul Parker speak in American accents, which so often is the case when local films try for this, distracts from some of the films tense moments, never more so highlighted by local industry vet and Mick Taylor himself John Jarrett’s brief cameo around the midpoint of the film. It would’ve been great to see Sims-Dennett embrace the films origins (even at the cost of appealing to overseas audiences) but it still doesn’t deter from the fact this is one of the most impressive low budget Australian offerings of the decade.
Observance acts as a finely tuned calling card for Sims-Dennett who could quickly become one of Australia’s newest directing white knights and there’s little doubt that Hollywood will come calling to a filmmaker that has both the determination and skill to pull off tricky subject matters and while Observance may waver slightly in certain elements and executions, its often downright masterful in the way it delivers its chills and Horror aficionados alongside Australian cinema fans would do well to seek it out.
3 ½ ominous jars out of 5
Observance will hit Australian cinema screens in April and is penned in for a June home video and VOD release. To find out more about the film or to hear about its history check into –