Review: ‘Who’s Watching Oliver?’ Would Make Norman Bates Uncomfortable

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“Who’s watching Oliver tells the story of a mentally unstable loner lost in a life forced upon him. By night Oliver (Russell Geoffrey Banks) aimlessly wanders the streets and bars on what can only be described as a truly shocking and humiliating killing spree. His only savior and possible way out of a life he is desperate to escape comes in the form of the beautiful Sophia (Sara Malakul Lane) with her sweet eccentricity and naivety to the danger she has put herself in.”

This is not an easy film to watch. Everything about the experience is a little jarring. From background music that doesn’t comfortably sit with the scene. To a mother/son relationship that would make Normal Bates uncomfortable. “Who’s Watching Oliver” is unlike any other horror film on the market at the moment. This is why you need to watch it!

Russell Geoffrey Banks stars as the titular Oliver. In addition to being one of the writing credits on the film, with Richie Moore and Raimund Huber also getting credit. This is a film that is has killed it on the festival circuit. With five awards already under their belts the team behind “Who’s Watching Oliver” have a hit on their hands.

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Have you ever felt sympathy for a serial killer before? That’s the main emotion that this intense horror will evoke. Over the course of 87 minutes, not only will you feel waves of concern for Oliver but hope and joy at his choices. None of these are the standard emotions for a horror movie, but that’s the beauty of “Who’s Watching Oliver”. Despite its horror label, it goes beyond the genre. At it’s heart – this is a love story that proves there is someone out there for everyone. Even Thai prostitute and mother obsessed Oliver. 

Russell Geoffrey Banks absolutely shines as Oliver. Quiet, hopefully and torn he’s a lovable main character.  Controlled over nightly web-cam sessions by his foul-mouthed mother played to perfection by Margaret Roche. Roche’s portrayal of “Mama” is terrifying. It’s with her that the true horror lies. Banks brings a level of vulnerability and pain to the role of Oliver. He is a man trapped by his past and by a sexually demanding mother. He knows he’s a monster, but a monster of his parents making.  

As the movie progresses audiences observe Oliver’s realization that he deserves more from life than killing prostitutes of a night to keep his mother happy. He deserves a cat. A home and ultimately someone to love.

Enter Sophia (Sara Malakul Lane) as the softly spoken, dream obsessed female lead. Through frequent meetings at a local theme park the two find a way to love each other and heal the wounds their families have left. It’s rare to want a serial killer to find happiness but through a tight script and a believable and strangely lovable character that is exactly what we want for Oliver.

Russell Geoffrey Banks has already won two Best Actor awards for his role. It’s very easy to see why. He delivers a masterclass in the nuances of a character. From patchy shaving to simple eye gestures, Oliver is a fully realized and deeply flawed character. You won’t hate him however, no matter how many prostitutes he kills. The hate will be reserved for his ever watchful Mama, who poisons her son’s life with increasingly disturbing demands on a nightly basis. The monster here isn’t the killer himself. Rather the creator. 

If you are looking for a horror full of jump scares and gores, then “Who’s Watching Oliver” isn’t the movie for you. If you want a movie that probes what it means to be a monster and the depth of love then you will want to catch this. This isn’t a film you’ll throw on and forget about. Oliver’s story will stay with you, his choices will affect you. The undertones of abuse not spoken about by Oliver, the jarring music and surreal settings of the movie all work brilliantly together. This is a slow burning movie that doesn’t wrap everything up in the final frame, but give it the time it deserves and you will be thankful you did.

Jamesey Lefebure
A Scotsman living in Liverpool who spends far too much time with his head in a horror book. Stephen Kings 2nd biggest fan and Wonder Woman enthusiast, I'm always happy to talk horror in any format, comics or cheesy TV.

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