Otis (2008) Review
Written by: Poppascotch
Back in the late seventies and the early eighties, we the
horror fans (I wasn't around yet physically, but I was there in spirit) were
treated to a wealth of films depicting the categorical slaughter of seemingly
uncountable attractive teenagers. Thus the slasher film was born.
As far as the sub genres of horror films go, not too much has changed with the
slasher genre since those days over 25 years ago (see "Prom Night"
08) . In the majority of these films, there is a killer (animal, monster,
demon, some omnipotent threat) that systematically tries to dispose of the
teenagers for one loosely contrived plot point or another and so on and so on
to sequel infinity. But once in a while, some one stirs up the pot and
tries to take what we know and love about the slasher genre and make it a bit
different. Otis tried to do this, by taking the slasher genre to a
different level by turning around the victims and killers perspectives,
introduces social issues and ultimately tried to bring a fresh perspective to
The story is pretty straight forward. Otis (Bostin Christopher) works a job as a pizza delivery guy (a job more associated with a teenager, despite him being 40ish) and in his spare time, abducts blond girls who he keeps in his basement until the fateful day of "prom". The latest of his victims named Riley (Ashley Johnson) is taken into his lab and subsequently starts to get thrown into various High School situations (including a post football practice run in with Otis) to sitting in a muscle car and taking in some home movies a la drive in style. All of these events are staged by Otis in his basement and garage while Riley's family is at home worried for her safety.
Looking at the synopsis, the movie seems a bit ridiculous and far fetched and well, it is a bit, but of course that is something that most genre goers will easily forgive. The bigger concerns lie within the subtext of the issues that get addressed so lightly after being introduced with force. First off, we have the dimwitted Agent Hotchkiss (Jere Burns) who is more concerned in the scene with his coffee than finding a kidnapped girl. His ineptitude is a nice little nod to the failing of authority, but it never gets discussed beyond that. Similarity the family feels at one point to take matters into their own hands, but again their actions seem almost cartoon like and the film takes a turn from a dark and disturbing family psycho drama to a "light" dark comedy. The repercussions of the characters actions are arbitrarily handed out to coincide with moving the plot forward. Ironically, one of the only people who get punished in the film didn't really deserve it.
All in all Otis was a great little exercise in what the sub genre's future could look like (but probably without so much humor though). At one moment, it could be relentless and gory but at the same time, issues such as reason, discussions of societal relevance and responsibility get glanced over as if they appeared unintentional. Otis takes on these issues with the depth of the kiddy pool rather than the diving end with a spring board, but of course that doesn't mean the film still can't be enjoyed. A fresh concept, a kick ass soundtrack, and a good cast deserves merits for showing love to a genre that most people just flood the market place with garbage. Director Tony Krantz almost made a camp horror classic... almost. All he had to do was decide if the film was going to be a dark horror of a comedy. He couldn't decide and thusly failed at both.