Horror is a genre which has been largely underestimated and maligned over the years. When Silence Of The Lambs won five academy awards, it left many wanting to call it something other than a horror film.
To some degree, I understand this trend. After Saw was a breakthrough success, an unwanted litter of substandard “Torture Porn” movies were born.
These movies largely relied on shock value and trying to be more extreme than those before it. This, in time, gave the horror genre a bit of a bad rep.
I bring all this up because I just saw a horror film called Who’s Watching Oliver, which is a serial killer movie that is a cut above.
Russell Geoffrey Banks (Soldiers, Dragonwolf) plays Oliver, an eccentric loner who wonders the streets of Thailand in search of his next victim. That is, until Oliver meets Sophia, played by Sara Malakul Lane (Kickboxer: Retaliation, Jailbird), a women he identifies with so deeply that he could never kill her.
Oliver’s previous victims are always attractive women who he convinces to come home with him, only to be savagely murdered. It is important to note that Banks did heavy lifting, not only lugging all those dead bodies as the titular role of Oliver, but he’s also one of the writers of the screenplay.
In a similar indie fashion, this is a telling debut feature for director Richie Moore (Crazy Medicine (Short)), who is also a co-writer and the Cinematographer of the movie.
What really pushes this story over the edge is that, in a way, Oliver is not the one killing these women…. it’s his mother. Margaret Roche (Lupin The 3rd, Troy The Odyssey) is credited as “Mama”. She gives a chilling, performance
as Oliver’s sadistic mother.
She manipulates Oliver like a puppet, to do these horrible things to women while she watches by way of webcam. In an organic way, we see how Oliver is brainwashed and traumatized from a life of abuse and coercion.
Some elements of how this was handled is the writing could have been better. Such as when Oliver tells his cat his traumatic backstory in one scene.
Yet, I have read other reviews that praised the filmmakers for not doing the traditional flashback in this case. I leave it to you to form your own opinions.