If you’re into dark, twisted horror films and haven’t heard of Otis, then you may very well be living under a rock. Part of Warner Home Video’s “Raw Feed” line of direct-to-video horror films that all manage to step it up in the graphical gore department in some way, shape or form, Otis debuted to great critical acclaim, with its cover art smattered with quotes like “It’s Juno for the horror set.” Well, I don’t know about that, but Otis is a pretty unique film in its own right and definitely isn’t like anything I’ve seen before. Then again, I don’t often take an outing into the world of comedy-horrors.
Otis Broth (Bostin Christopher) is an over forty year old, three hundred pound pizza delivery guy who also happens to be a pedophile and serial killer, something that often ends in disaster for the teenage girls he finds on his pizza routes. One such girl, Riley Lawson (Ashley Johnson), is abducted by Otis and soon her family is on the hunt for her. Once they get wind of Riley’s location, the feds are called in and Ashley takes a momentary distraction (a result of Otis’s older brother Mort [Kevin Pollack]) as her chance to escape. Unfortunately this doesn’t go over well with Otis and soon all hell breaks loose as he attempts to get her back.
I know what you’re thinking. Pedophile serial killer? Hilarious! Not really, actually and as much as I love dark comedies, something about pedophilia just isn’t…well, funny. I think that’s my main qualm with the film, as the rest of its off-color humor and obscene amount of gore just reminds me of something out of one of Rob Zombie’s films. Generally speaking I love the comedy style where I can barely stand to watch the screen as something happens, but I just don’t find this film funny and the generally annoying characters grate on my nerves to a level to where I just can’t enjoy it. As I watched the film, I knew and readily saw what people liked about the film and even knowing about it’s strange story and way of telling it going into it I just couldn’t warm up to it.
Of course the gore in the film was entertaining to see, as it always is, and the level of grossness that films are able to pack into the frames now is just about one of the most vulgar and disgusting things imaginable. In short, the gore isn’t a problem with this film and any good horror film will likely smile at the onslaught of slaughter, although for a serial killer we actually don’t see Otis actually “do the deed” as much as one would expect.
I will say that one element of the film I enjoyed was the music in the film. There was such a wide array of great music in the film that I actually became more interested in that than anything going on with the plot or characters and it is quite frankly one of the better film soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time. With artists ranging from the B-52’s to Devo, the film clearly blew a large portion of its budget on the licensing of the songs, as the films orchestral portions are rather generic.
In a way, Otis is comprised of a film with a few clever scenes encased in something that is neither good nor bad. It obviously has a solid cult following and plenty of appeal in the horror-comedy genre (who the hell even knew that was a genre?) and the film itself draws inspiration from the other shock-horror films that have littered the screens over the years, but in all I fail to see what is entirely so special about this film. Yeah, it’s unique in what it does, but in essence there just isn’t enough unique to be had.
Overall it certainly has its moments, but you’re likely to feel disgusted with yourself if you laugh at the film in its entirety. The situations and characters are so asinine that you can’t help but laugh, even when you question if you should be. Normally I welcome these types of films, but when the reason you’re laughing is because of a pedophile serial killer? Eh, I think I’ll pass. Rent It only if you are a horror buff, otherwise you can Skip It.
Although the film has already seen a DVD release (as far back as June 2008), this is its big Blu-ray debut. What kind of extras can we hope to discover here? Well…bupkiss, actually. Not a single one of the DVD extras are included on this release and short of a tiny menu and the video and audio, there’s absolutely nothing occupying this disc. As is the disc just comes in a standard Elite Blu-ray case, with no fancy frills (although the cover art has changed from the DVD release to focus on one of the films bigger stars, Daniel Stern) or anything to speak of. The menu is just the usual Warner pop-up sliver and since there are no extras to watch, there is quite literally nothing but chapters and audio/setup options. Uber yawn.
So how do the video fare on this Blu-ray release? Is it obviously HD or does it falters in appearance? The answer is the latter, unfortunately, as there is nearly no depth or detail to the image at all and instead everything comes off as very flat. There is no detail to speak of and the film appears to have once again squandered its budget on the audio as the cameras used here were either barely high definition or a step below. I dare say aside from an overall lack of compression, this could just be an upscaled DVD.
Ok, so the video is disappointing, but the audio? Same deal, I’m afraid. Although there is lossless track provided you really don’t get anything from this film in the TrueHD versus the regular Dolby Digital 5.1 track. They both sound the same and there just isn’t much of a profound difference between the two; a bit more clarity, maybe, but as is the mix just doesn’t spread out enough to even be able to separate the two. Alternate 5.1 Spanish and Portuguese tracks have been included, as well as English (SDH), French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese subtitles.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, if you already own the DVD edition then I wouldn’t even give this Blu-ray edition a fleeting glance. There is nothing here that the DVD doesn’t already have and, in fact it actually has less. The video and audio is mediocre and there are zero extras. Why bother? Skip It.
Otis: Uncut arrives on Blu-ray on October 7th.