Fantasia Fest 2015: Observance (2015)

Fantasia Festival is in full swing.  Right after we saw We Are Still Here, I stayed back to listen to a little Q&A and then headed over right away to the theatre across to watch the World Premiere of an Australian psychological horror called Observance. It was hosted by the cast and the director. Here’s a little snapshot from the Q&A at the end of the movie.

Fantasia Festival 2015

I love psychological horror and if anything, its been scarce (or just rarely my choices) at Fantasia Festival so believe me, I was pretty excited about this. But then, I’m usually excited about world premieres.

Observance (2015)

World Premiere


Director: Joseph Sims-Dennett

Cast: Lindsay Farris, Stephanie King, Brendan Cowell, John Jarratt

After his son’s death and the resulting hospital bills causing him to have immense financial burden, Parker takes on a well compensated job as (something like) a private investigator to spy on a woman across the street from a designated apartment.  He can’t leave his apartment, ask questions or contact anyone.  All he can do is observe and report what he sees. However, as uneventful as it seems at the beginning, he starts experiencing strange dreams and questionable events happen in the isolated apartment that start to bother him. Enough to make him wonder whether this job was a good choice in the first place especially when his unknown employer seems to be working with a hidden agenda.

Observance 2015

As I was thinking about how to write the review for Observance, I started thinking about whether I really liked this or not.  Fact is, these thoughts carried on for a few days and then I started thinking: what makes a psychological horror good? Its that it makes you think. It builds and lurks in your mind days after.  It can mess you up a little while giving you that creeping feeling that’s there.  Its just all in your mind though and those thoughts will make you subconsciously suddenly look around the corner and wonder if I’ll have strange things happen just like what happened to Parker.  What also took so long was that Observance is a game of beliefs.  Is Parker paranoid? Is there spirits lurking in that isolated rundown apartment? Was there a deeper meaning in the various scenarios that played in his head? We get answers but we also leave knowing that there is a lot of ambiguity here.  Are you okay with ambiguity? When I first left the theatre, I felt that the ambiguity was too much.  It was so ambiguous that it became hard to follow, except now that I’ve had a few days to think about it, I think Observance deserves a second viewing and its one of those psychological horrors that require one because you can now see more, notice details maybe.


Fact is, after days of thinking about it, Observance does a good job at being a psychological horror. The apartment, the focus on when to focus on isolated sounds and when to merge in some sombre music, even how to flow certain events and when to drop hints on where this whole plot is going.  I’d be lying if it didn’t creep me out a lot during the movie.  I cringed and shifted in my seat.  Its the unknown that sits high and proud in this one that overshadows and churns up all those feelings of dread.  That creeping feeling latched onto me and to be honest, I had to close my eyes a few times and for one scene, just totally turn away from the screen and one scene that you might not want to take your eyes off of. So yes, as a psychological horror, it definitely does its job right.


Aside from building the atmosphere really well, what totally takes the win in this one over everything is the cast.  80% of the movie is central around our main character Parker, played by Lindsay Farris.  This man can definitely act. He pretty much did a one man show of a man, in a way, deteriorating inside, getting paranoid and being confused and all that stuff that comes with a psychological horror.  However, being directed only from afar, Stephanie King, who is the girl being watched, also does a great job.  We get a cameo from the crazy guy in Wolf Creek as well.

Overall, Observance is a psychological horror which will make you wonder a little what you watched at the end (at least I did).  It drops hints throughout the movie but what makes it a worthy psychological horror is that it builds a great atmosphere and introduces very effective scares, knowing when to make it show up, and utilizes sounds very well to help add to it.  With a small but solid cast, especially for the main character, the premise of Observance is really good.  While I did complain about it being a little too ambiguous, I really think its a very thought provoking psychological horror that might just lurk in your thoughts for a while and make you peek around the corner even if we don’t have some questionable black liquid sitting in a jar in the corner or newspapers covering the entire wall. There’s something more (and different) with Observance that is worth a chance if you like psychological horrors. I might sound vague but I really want you to experience all the surprises yourself, in the end, that’s what makes it scarier, right?

Do you like psychological horror? What do you think about Observance?

Fantasia Film Festival Line-up! :)

It’s the time of year again! Fantasia Film Festival hits Montreal starting the coming Tuesday (July 14th)!

After waiting for the site to get updated and the schedule to go up on Tuesday, I sat down for 2 hours looking at trailers, reading descriptions, seeing what fit in my schedule.  It sure took longer than I expected.  But then, last year probably took the same amount of time.  With work rush in the way, I have to make some choices that I didn’t really want to.  Some movies I wanted to see only  had time slots where I couldn’t go or it clashed with something I wanted to see more.

One movie, I did end up not choosing (because the chances of me getting tickets were also slim) was advanced screening of Ant-Man.  I’ll still go check it out in theatres if its still around after the festival but its okay.  There are a lot of great choices and some amazing hosts for certain movies.  With that said, I was a little nervous that I couldn’t get tickets for some of the movies.  Here is what the final line-up is!

Just a note: I don’t have particular preferences but I do usually go for less dramas and romance and more horror and thrillers.  I always choose one Hong Kong (China) production and try to dive into Canadian movies also.  Other ones, I try to keep an eye out for is Quebec production and animations that peak my interest but not necessarily included.

July 15

Kung Fu Killer (Quebec Premiere)

The Hallow (Canadian Premiere)

July 17

Cooties (Canadian Premiere)

July 19

We Are Still Here (Canadian Premiere)

Observance (World Premiere)

July 21

Anguish (World Premiere)

July 24

Tales of Halloween (World Premiere)

July 28

Cop Car (Canadian Premiere)

July 29

Bite (World Premiere)

July 30

Antisocial 2 (World Premiere)

Dark Places

That’s the line-up for now! 🙂 11 movies! That’s the same as last year.  I’m pretty happy that I managed to get all of what I wanted even though I hesitated a little during ticket checkout for Tales of Halloween and Antisocial 2. Those are kind of my wild card right there but after looking at the San Diego Comic Con trailer for Tales of Halloween.  It does make me a good bit more optimistic.  I haven’t ever dived into the world of horror anthology movies so this will be a fresh experience.  As for Antisocial 2, my review for Antisocial will go up some time next week, tell me that it doesn’t give you a creeping feeling of Resident Evil BUT I’m a huge fan of Resident Evil, seeing as its my guilty pleasure and all, that I’m willing to give this one a chance.

This year, the fiance is coming with me to see the Sunday two movies back to back night with We Are Still Here and Observance. And one of my good friends are going with me to see Cop Car.  I always love company in these things since everyone else seems to have company.  Not that I mind too much since I’m usually pretty hyped up about these events.


Moving along, there were a few movies I couldn’t see because of time constraints but these two were the ones that I felt like I will miss out the most:



While there are movies that I considered and the trailers were rather intriguing but upon a second look at the trailers and discussing with my fiance for weekend showings, we decided to not choose those.  Whatever the reason, I do only have a certain budget so sadly, among a pool of potentially good movies, I had to make choices and hope that it would work out for the better. However, please take a look.  Maybe you can shed some light on some of these that I wasn’t aware of and I’ll add it to my viewing list.

Ludo (India)

Synchronicity (USA)

Momentum (South Africa)

Cherry Tree (Ireland)

Synopsis- via Fantasia Festival

Traders (Ireland) 

Synopsis – via Fantasia Festival

And there you go! My final line-up, potential candidates that didn’t make it (but your opinion and suggestions may change that) and movies that had scheduling conflicts.  As for one of the movies, I actually chose because I wanted to see it and then work my schedule around it.  But then, I really hope I’m sacrificing for the right movie… Either way, I need to be confident in what I’ve chosen. I really do like the looks of it all.  I think I’ll need to round up a ton of comedies to ease the amount of horrors sitting in this list.  If you had to choose one horror to get creeped out of, Anguish gave me chills and the first time, I didn’t even finish the trailer on my own.  My fiance claims I’ll stay up all night.  Lets hope that won’t happen. As for hosts, Tales of Halloween will have a ton including Neil Marshall.  I’d lie if I didn’t choose to see that movie because I wanted to see what he had to say about it. Then there’s Cop Car where Kevin Bacon will host along with the director.  Just a little highlight from what I can remember.

Yay! Festival season! 🙂 Its a huge reason why I feel so lucky to be living in Montreal!

Anyone going to be here for the Fantasia Festival? What are you seeing? Anything catch your eye out of this selection? What peaks your interest from this list?