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Credits
  • Director: Joseph Sims-Dennett
  • Producer: Joseph Sims-Dennett, Josh Zammit
  • Screenwriters: Joseph Sims-Dennett, Josh Zammit
  • Cast: Lindsay Farris, Stephanie King, Brendan Cowell, John Jarratt, Benedict Hardie, Tom O'Sullivan, Roger Ward
  • Cinematography: Rodrigo Vidal-Dawson
Product Details
  • Format: DVD / Blu-ray
  • Catalog: ART43
  • UPC: 851597006230 (DVD); 851597006308 (Blu-ray)
  • ISBN: 978-1-939196-65-1; 978-1-939196-71-2 (Blu-ray)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Country: Australia
  • Language: English
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Year: 2015
  • Length: 86
  • Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
  • Color: Color
Gallery
Atmospherically creepy and visually unnerving, Australia’s Joseph Sims-Dennett’s startling feature film debut follows Parker, a young man in the grip of grief following the death of his young son, his marriage on the rocks and nearing bankruptcy, but who reluctantly returns to work as a private investigator. His assignment it to observe a woman from an abandoned apartment, and as her watches bizarre happenings surrounding her, he slowly becomes aware that the derelict building he is in has a dark presence which slowly threatens to consume him. A frightening horror tale of a man spiraling into madness and reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s THE TENANT, Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW, and the works of David Cronenberg and David Lynch.
Reviews

“Visually stunning…has a fantastic appearance that shocks the senses and floods the screen with grotesque imagery.” – HorrorTalk

“Sims-Dennett has crafted a pretty interesting picture…it’s a thought provoking picture that rewards attentive viewing (and at the same time is sure to alienate those who want things tied up nicely with a bow) and offers some solid thrills at the same time. – Rock!Shock!Pop!

“Like a lo-fi take on Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation…Sims-Dennett (Bad Behaviour) starts channeling David Lynch, and Lynch begets another David, as in Cronenberg. You’ll never look at tar the same again…confounding as it is intriguing”  – Rod Lott, Flickattack

“A psychological thriller that initially sets itself up as a voyeur themed thriller in the tradition of films like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Roman Polanski’s The Tenant and Brian De Palma’s Body Double. Fortunately, there is so much more to this film and the end result is something that transcends all of its inspirations. The film’s features a well-constructed narrative and pacing is never an issue as this film does a great job letting key moments fully resonate. Another strength of this film are its atmospheric visuals which do a remarkable job in reinforcing the sinister mood of the film.” – 10kbullets

“An exercise in psychological terror, Observance is the most unsettling independent thriller in recent memory…an unnerving thriller that turns Rear Window’s innate voyeurism into a surrealistic nightmare of frightening proportions. Observance is a uniquely sinister thriller built on paranoia and pure dread. Psychological horror is often code for slow and dull. This is not the case with Observance. Observance is a gripping psychological ride in terror that will affect even the most sane, rational viewers. You have been warned. Recalling the films of David Lynch, Observance is a film built to provoke discussion after watching it. Observance’s direction, scoring, cinematography and acting are all top-notch, reflecting the amount of thought that has gone into it. This is refined filmmaking rarely seen in the horror genre, made for educated movie buffs. Its haunting narrative will stay with you.” Christopher Zabel, DoBlu

“A gripping study of encroaching paranoia…the director builds a strong, consistent sense of unease, making effective use of close-ups and handheld photography and punctuating the psychological horrors with queasy, visceral moments. (Among other things, he stages one of the most disgusting vomiting scenes in film history.)” – Michael Gingold, Rue Morgue

Entertaining..imagine REAR WINDOW’s scenario with a dash of Polanski and a sprinkle of Lynch and a whole lot of RING influences…visually stimulating…If you love stories with undefined, supernatural menace and storylines that don’t bread-crumb you through the narrative, then give this flick a shot.” – FamousMonsters

“Observance is a quiet, claustrophobic horror film that leaves viewers with plenty to think about after the credits roll….a horror film any die-hard genre fan would do well to give a close look.” – Film Monthly

Observance, the new film from writer-director Joseph Sims-Dennett, washes over viewers like a wave of palpable dread. Observance is remarkably unnerving throughout…Sims-Dennett strings together tiny moments dripping with paranoia and bursts of madness.” – BloodViolenceandBabes

“A Blast! Check it out.” – Random Review Series

“It’s really crazy…Check out Observance for sure.” Logan Toxic

“If you took the style of Brian De Palma mixed it with Alfred Hitchcock, then threw in David Lynch you would have the overall feeling of Observance. I felt this film was very much a modern day take on Rear Window with horror elements thrown in for extra impact. From start to finish, this film was a brave journey that I feel will mess with people long after you get off the ride. Better yet, I feel there may not be a way off of this ride. A day after I watched it, I am left trying to sort it all out and figure out what they were trying to manipulate me to believe. This film does the job it is supposed to do and will have you wanting to tell your friends and see what they get out of this film.” – Wicked Channel

[A] mind-boggling ending…Observance is one of those films people will come back two, five, or even ten years from and still enjoy it. – Cryptic Rock

“Indie horror at its best; no fast-cut action scenes, no dumbed-down, over-explained script geared to appeal to the masses, just a slow-burning, understated intelligent story-line that subtly peels back the layers, at its own pace and disregards the trappings of Hollywood’s standard, paint-by-numbers film structure and in turn shows us an alternative viewpoint of a heavily used sub-genre that makes it feel fresh and new again.” – MonstersMovieApp.com

“This unusual Australian contribution to the long cinematic tradition of “person going crazy in an apartment” stories perfected by Roman Polanski manages to throw a little bit of a variation into the mix courtesy of some Rear Window-style voyeurism. Not for all tastes to be sure, but it’s worth checking out if you want to see an Aussie horror film on the artier side.” – Mondo Digital

“Cinephiles will not be surprised to see echoes of Rear Window and The Conversation. What is unexpected is the turn towards body horror. Not quite Cronenberg territory, but close enough.” CoffeeCoffeeandmoreCoffee

“A seriously intense thriller…a creepy and quite unnerving film. I soon felt a sense of dread coming over me as I watched this film. People are followed, watched, manhandled, scalded, grabbed, run at, slapped, trapped, tackled, face-grabbed, hit with objects and we see photos of bloody corpses and just lots of blood. There is sex and nudity and language that just might offend some people. “Observance” is ambiguous and the only thing that I felt was for sure was that there is something amiss. The film is from Parker’s perspective alone and therefore everything is up for interpretation. – Reviews by Amos Lassen

“What’s going on with this movie? I’d ask myself, and answer myself: I ain’t got no damn clue! The cinematography is effective. The film looks all grimy and vinegary, black mold growing in the dark corners. You kinda feel like taking a shower after watching it, which is how you should feel.” – LeglessCorpse

“A dark look into the human condition, and one that takes us on a journey of paranoia, obsession, and isolation. It’s heavily routed in classics such as Repulsion, Blow Up, and Rear Window. It manages to be in the same vein as these classics, all the while being an original work. Observance is more than just a film deserving a viewing; It’s a wonderful piece of art, one that deserves any and all praise headed its way.” – ThatsNotCurrent

“A movie that plays with your perceptions….those who love cult films and don’t mind a little thought to go with their viscera will find this a worthy addition to their film library.” – Cinema365

Creepy setting, pacing, tone, and psychological suspense….Yet Observance is simply not an in-your-face ghost movie. The limited haunting episodes help create the foreboding tone that permeates the film and are more a reflection of the dark psychological and emotional state of the character than an attempt to scare the audience. And when the film takes a sudden, jolting turn near the end, don’t expect anything that happened prior to be explained.” – Boys, Bears & Scares

Observance is well-executed psychological horror film. It’s greatest strengths are the cinematography, coupled with beautiful and original graphic matches and Lindsay Farris’s gripping performance.  Letting the audience leave without the definite answers that the characters had been seeking and failed to find is a great move for a psychological horror movie. It opens the possibility for repeat viewings and leaves a great deal up to interpretation.” – WickedHorror.com

“Agonizingly Close To Greatness...a thoroughly chilling horror which is a few steps short of greatness…an intense, edge-of-your seat thriller… [had] Sims-Dennett had cut back on the metaphorical a bit, the film really would have been one of the greatest horror films of recent years.” – FilmInquiry.com

“With striking cinematography and a well-paced script, Observance is sure to appeal to many as a modern amalgam of technology and the supernatural. Sims-Dennett deserves a lot of credit for producing something generally frightening, while Farris’s portrayal of Parker should earn him Hollywood’s attention. – RavenousMonster.com

“Remarkably unnerving…dripping with paranoia and bursts of madness!” – John W. Allman, Blood Violence and Babes

“Keep your eyes peeled, because there’s always someone watching us at all times, whether we choose to believe it or not… so simple, yet ultimately terrifying.” – Dread Central

“From its gloomy opening to its tragic conclusion, Observance is a film that captivates the viewer with an inescapable sense of dread rarely felt in contemporary horror. Directed by Joseph Sims-Dennett, the film stands as a testament to Australia’s growing movie industry and the versatility of horror films. Borrowing from both classic sources, like Hitchcock, and relatively recent inspirations, like Takashi Shimizu, Joseph has managed to create a patient thriller that knows exactly when to start the scares…Channeling the best of classic voyeur films like Rear Window while still clinging firmly to its horror roots with some terrifying moments that would make David Cronenberg proud, Observance presents us with a cleverly paced ride into madness.” – bloody-disgusting.com

“One of the most chilling experiences.” — The Hollywood Reporter
“Sheer ambient dread.”Indiewire
“Joseph Sims-Dennett’s Observance brings the paranoid housebound sensibilities of Polanski’s “Apartment Trilogy” to the 21st century.” — Sight & Sound
One of the best and most unique works of horror.” — Bloody Disgusting
“Captivates the viewer with an inescapable sense of dread rarely felt in contemporary horror. — Bloody Disgusting
“Ambitious, dreamlike Lynchian tale that borrows from REAR WINDOW and THE CONVERSATION.” — Jason Gorber
“A suspenseful, edge-of-the-seat thriller.” —Twitch Film
Original terror and suspense aren’t dead yet.” — Cinapse E
“We’re no longer in the cinema, we’re trapped in the apartment questioning our own memory and sanity.” — Moviefail
The very definition of psychological horror.” — Thy Critic Man
A stylized descent into madness reminiscent of the films of Roman Polanski” — San Francisco Film Critics Circle
“An intense stakeout thriller” – eFilmCritic
“Electrify your brain” – Film Stage

Screenings
2015 - BFI London Film Festival
2015 - Fantasia International Film Festival
2015 - VIFF – Vancouver International Film Festival
2015 - Ottawa International Film Festival
Director Interview

Director’s Statement:

A year into living in Sydney away from friends and family everything collapsed. I’d made a film about 3 years earlier which got me some work in the interim but I quickly found myself unemployed, desperate and far from home. Project after project kept falling through and I came to realise that I’d been blind in my pursuit of success, chasing ideas amounting to nothing more than far-fetched dreams. One night in November 2012 yet another project had crumbled and I laid in bed sodden in this latest failure. Somewhere between consciousness and slumber an image entered my mind: a man seated alone in darkness, peering through a camera at a woman across the street. He doesn’t know who she is but he cannot look away, needing to obsessively monitor her every move from the shadows. As one image faded another came: the man reviews the photographs that he’s taken of this woman, discovering a reflection in the glass of one of her windows. The reflection is of his own apartment. The image shows that in the window of his kitchen a threatening outline of a human figure stands. In the shadows he is not alone. The next morning I told my friend Josh and we started writing. For a month and a half we wandered the streets of Rozelle and Balmain at night, exploring and scribbling down notes. We decided to shoot in early January and on our own steam, pulling every favour we could. I’m still amazed by the dedication and fine work of the cast and crew. I was under-prepared, having to shoot the entire thing in 11 days with no money and during the worst heatwave Sydney had ever experienced. Josh and I both averaged about two hours sleep per night. It wasn’t long before the madness hung over the set like an invisible gas, slowly poisoning our sanity. It’s an odd thing when the film you are making starts to resemble the life that you are living. Especially when you’re making a horror film! Each time I watch it I can feel a certain sense of turmoil and anxiety percolating through the layers of the story, from Lindsay’s performance as the man in darkness to his dreams of waves beating against rocky cliffs. OBSERVANCE is an experience birthed from a desire to explore my inability to control my own future. As I sank further into its world I began to perceive life as though it were a race towards a distant light. A cold presence taunting me into oblivion. The trauma sits like a spectre in the night. As it stares down at me in my sleep I feel almost content knowing that these conspirators, whether they exist in reality or in my mind, will never let me go.  — Joseph Sims-Dennett

About the Director

JOSEPH SIMS-DENNETT (Director, Writer, Producer) was born in Oxford, England with a pathological film obsession. At 16 he moved to Australia where he finished high school, going on to study writing and film at university in Brisbane. In 2009 he established Sterling Cinema, directing his first feature film BAD BEHAVIOUR. Sims-Dennett’s debut feature film went on to win numerous awards on the international film festival circuit including Best Director and Best Screenwriter at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival 2010. Following this, Sims-Dennett relocated to Sydney where he forged a creative partnership with Josh Zammit. Together they wrote and produced their first collaborative feature and Sims-Dennett’s second directorial outing, OBSERVANCE. Following that Sims-Dennett has produced the upcoming debut feature of John Scarpias titled C.A.M, and recieved development funding through Screen Australia for feature project RAPTOR, co-written with Scarpias and produced by Raquelle David. Sims-Dennett is currently in the final stages of development for CRY OF THE HUNTERS, due to start filming in mid 2016.

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Watch on Demand
Credits
  • Director: Joseph Sims-Dennett
  • Producer: Joseph Sims-Dennett, Josh Zammit
  • Screenwriters: Joseph Sims-Dennett, Josh Zammit
  • Cast: Lindsay Farris, Stephanie King, Brendan Cowell, John Jarratt, Benedict Hardie, Tom O'Sullivan, Roger Ward
  • Cinematography: Rodrigo Vidal-Dawson
Product Details
  • Format: DVD / Blu-ray
  • Catalog: ART43
  • UPC: 851597006230 (DVD); 851597006308 (Blu-ray)
  • ISBN: 978-1-939196-65-1; 978-1-939196-71-2 (Blu-ray)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Country: Australia
  • Language: English
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Year: 2015
  • Length: 86
  • Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
  • Color: Color
Gallery