Who’s Watching Oliver (2017)
Starring Russell Geoffrey Banks, Margaret Roche, Sara Malakul Lane
Directed by Richie Moore
Oliver is a strange young man. A tall, lanky, and awkward loner, Oliver lives in Thailand and sticks to a daily OCD routine: Wake up (with glasses on), shower (with glasses on), brush teeth, dress, comb hair, and take his oversized camera out on bus rides to a park, where he sits to watch and absorb everything around him. He is undoubtedly clunky, slouchy, and child-like.
Oh, but his nights are more exciting! You see, Oliver’s nocturnal activities are filled with taking his medication, waiting until 1:00 am to FaceTime with his mum, and then committing a little serial killer act before bedtime.
Yes, Oliver is a strange young man. And then one day… he falls in love. Who’s Watching Oliver is a case file on an autistic man who is under the intense control of a sexually depraved and abusive psychopath… his mama. Who’s Watching Oliver is full of monsters – a gory, torturous sequential slasher and a boy’s mother who dictates his despicable deeds to please her demented desires.
When the odd Oliver meets the pretty Sophia, his world is sent off course. Does she see the real Oliver or a freak? Can he share his dark secrets with her? And most importantly – would Mama approve?
“Mama,” played by Margaret Roche, is the quintessential sociopath. All her dispelled needs are projected onto her disassociated son. She created the perfect monster – a soft spoken, shy, and anti-social freak who lures local prostitutes and young women back to his apartment in order to please his warped mama in the most disturbing and degrading ways imaginable.
Russell Geoffrey Banks (Pernicious, Cam2Cam) is the handsome talent who is amazingly transformed into the somewhat creepy and socially inept Oliver – part crazy and part lovable. Alongside his co-writers Raimund Huber and Richie Moore (who also directs), Banks developed this “Forrest Gump meets George McFly” character adapted for his lead portrayal. Sympathy is poured into Oliver as he sinks into despair and questions these twisted motives instilled by Mama.
Sara Malakul Lane is the beautiful Sophia – lost, sad, and impressionable. Her instant attraction to Oliver is uncertain until the truth is discovered and her life turns back into the dark side she thought she had escaped.
This is a film of firsts – Richie Moore’s directorial debut, Russell Geoffrey Banks’ first lead, Margaret Roche’s first psycho-sexual role. Ha ha!
Who’s Watching Oliver is filled with brilliant performances, the stand-out being the obvious and convincing Banks – it’s extremely tough to believe he is NOT this mentally unhinged character in real life. Oliver’s quirkiness becomes his exceptionally attractive trait. Lane’s Sophia is implausible at first, until you peel back the broken layers of the sweet side to Oliver and watch it become exposed to the compassionate young woman.
And now for the ultimate monstrosity… Mama.
Roche is genius. Appearing only via laptop, Mama takes control at every angle and keeps her baby boy Oliver under her thumb. Her deranged cravings for brutality are sickening; yet, you can’t look away.
Who’s Watching Oliver is already an award-winning horror film: 5 Best Picture nods and 2 Best Actor trophies for Russell Geoffrey Banks, thus far. So well deserved, I am excited for its release to the horror whores looking for a new side of evil. Kudos to Raimund Huber for producing such an incredible story and Richie Moore for bringing Oliver to life. Both are major filmmaking gems to follow!
To conclude: This is one ruthless, harsh, and heartbreaking glance into a lonely man’s life and his inescapable bond with his mother, at the expense of his sanity. Oliver is the 4th horror film to trigger my tears, but I look forward to my 3rd viewing!
Not only recommended, but required – any true horror fan will adore this psychological gorefest.