Presented as more a thought piece than coherent story, Observance risks alienating many viewers; there are no answers to be had, only clues, with no black-and-white conclusion revealed. For those who value a truly psychological film, however, it is an effectively unsettling experience.
The premise initially appears straightforward for both protagonist and viewer alike: private investigator Parker holes himself up in a derelict apartment opposite his newest assignment’s home, with no instructions other than to report all goings on. A smattering of backstory reveals that he is grieving the recent death of his son, and as the days pass, Parker’s grief appears to manifest itself within his surrounds.
And yet to summarise Observance so simply feels a disservice to a film that holds its strength in its ambiguity; the lack of answers are what create such a palpable sense of dread. That this is only director Joseph Sims-Dennett’s second feature is impressive.
10 October 2016