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</script></div>{/googleAds}Play pretend for a moment... you're a studio executive in charge of developing and green-lighting new projects. In come some people and pitch you a story they wanna tell about a serial-killing pederast satire... a ‘dark comedy' that explores that subject matter and comments humorously on the Gorno phenomenon... . Yep, I hear you, I don't get I either. But someone at Warner Bros. did.

Otis is anything but predictable, it is certainly original in its execution, and there was nothing like it before, and one doubts there will be any like it afterward. Usually, in what may become known as the decade of remakes, reboots, and re-we-can't-be-bothered-writing-new-material, this should be a resounding compliment - but in this case it isn't.

Putting aside the fact that turning such a difficult topic/character into some kind of digestible farce is like asking for a Holocaust Musical to be embraced, Otis just takes an innumerable amount of ingredients and combines them with the appeal of 90 year-old centrefolds in Playboy.

OtisThe story follows our title character, a serial killer who entraps a pretty young thing in his elaborate dungeon-like basement to replicate the quintessential high school cliché romance and go all the way with her on Prom night. Of course the girls aren't so keen on this and when they reject Otis things go bad... and he needs to find himself a new girl. Upon delivering pizza to a middle American home, Otis becomes entranced by Riley (Ashley Johnson), and she becomes his next abductee. What follows is a fairly straight story of her ordeal to get away, intercut with her family's struggle to cope, being taunted by Otis and at the mercy of inept FBI agents.

Playing it straight, narratively speaking, is exactly where the film makes it first of many major missteps. By under-pinning this film with the exact trappings its trying to ‘satire,' the inclusion of more than half the characters hamming things up against the other half playing things dead-straight immediately confuses its audience. More tonally schizophrenic than any film in living memory, Otis will have more head-scratching going on after ten minutes than a dandruff convention.

Also this admission of wanting to deal with a paedophilic serial killer (which the makers allude to in their DVD featurette) as a source of any humor seems ill-advised, but the strange thing is its not present in the movie at all. Ashley Johnson and the girl before her- are young woman to be sure, but their characters are both of the legal age of sexual consent? Why even bother adding this bitter pill to an already hard to digest film?

If the intent was sensationalism, or trying to push any boundaries, they have failed dismally on all fronts. They mention an intent to ‘satire' the Gorno, and the gore is vanilla at best. The heavy-handed social commentary is so simplistic and juvenile it belongs in a Nickelodean kiddie after school sitcom, as are the insulting and irritating music cues. There's no shock to be had, no laughs to be had, whatever intentions they make in the featurette are simply not delivered. It's just an odd, unbalanced affair.

You have a group of extraordinarily gifted actors on screen and there is no sense of a cohesive approach to the material. With some playing it straight and some just out there, the result is disjointed and impossible to settle into enough to allow the director to steer you whatever way he wanted. It might be the guy is on a plain way above us mere mortals, but his poor handling of the satirical elements and overtly self aware ‘wink, winks' at his audience (while failing to recognise his film is as much a slave to the same framework as the ones he's trying to lampoon) make this reviewer doubtful.

This film is brave, considering what it attempted to combine successfully, but after sitting through one of the oddest films I've ever watched, this reviewer can't help but feel they bit off more than they could chew.

Component Grades
2 stars
3 Stars
DVD Experience
2.5 stars


DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; French; Spanish

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Stereo 2.0

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; audio commentary; alternate ending; trailer; cast and crew interviews..

* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with director Tony Krantz and writer Erik Jendreson. The pair discuss where the ideas for the story came from, how many of the themes were more or less taken from headlines, and how the film could have been based on a true story. They also talk about the importance of casting the right performers in the various parts that the film.
* Featurettes
o The Twisted World Of Otis (12:07)
o The Birthday Party Alternate Ending (04:53) Can be played with or without commentary from director Krantz
o Otis Home Movie: Suite 16 (2:53
* Previews - Trailer for Otis as well as for a few other Raw Feed films

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging