As James van Maanen astutely noted earlier this year, Surveillance shouldn’t surprise an active viewer with its twist, since the script reveals it from a mile away. The shoddy writing and directing go along way toward explaining the lack of tension and suspense, but Jennifer Lynch’s film becomes even more disheartening as she obviously deconstructs her father David’s auteurist tendencies and fails miserably. Bill Pullman’s wacked-out FBI Agent seems to be a bad interpretation of Kyle MacLachlan’s Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks, and the fragmented, looney dialogue could be pulled from any of David Lynch’s leftover scenes.
But Jennifer Lynch explores one fascinating aspect contradictory to and ignored by her daddy’s best work. In Surveillance, she paints a disturbing picture of law enforcement as a failed institution, either corrupt, arrogant, impotent, and lastly and most importantly, altogether false. The FBI and local police do far more harm than good, using passive methodologies and brazen actions that are easily subverted by the killers on the loose. No innocent person is safe, yet this frightening concept doesn’t ring true because of the almost comedic villains and inept storytelling. But this specific theme keeps Surveillance from being a complete dud, making one wonder that if in the hands of another filmmaker, it could be diabolical stuff.