A hot leading man and an intriguing premise make the gay paranoid thriller "Surveillance 24/7" watchable, but just barely. An inconsistent style and a script that contradicts itself make the British film more confusing than suspenseful.
Tom Harper, a Colin Farrell type, stars as gay schoolteacher Adam Blane. Before a night with society photographer Jake Raven (Sean Brenden Brosnan, son of Pierce) Tom calls Amy (Dawn Steele), a TV reporter he dated in college. The next night, Jake is apparently murdered by a covert operator. Suddenly Tom finds his job sabotaged, himself being followed and people around him being killed.
We’d better post a spoiler alert here, because some revelations are necessary to discuss what the film is about. Jake was in love with a prince and they were about to go public. The Royal Family and Jake’s father, a titled "media mogul," wanted to stop them and had the means to do so. Now they want to stop Tom, fearing Jake gave him their coming-out recording.
Amy, whose network is owned by Jake’s father, is assigned to get the lowdown on Tom, while England’s version of Homeland Security tracks his every move.
Kevin Sampson’s screenplay contradicts itself frequently. And director Paul Oremland ignores the premise that everything we see was filmed by surveillance and closed-circuit cameras. But Oremland immediately starts inserting arty shots that couldn’t possibly have come from such a source. Had he stuck to his conceit, a variation on the "Blair Witch"/"Cloverfield" gimmick, it might have created the sense of paranoia he was after. As it is there’s just a sense that sometimes "they" are watching, and it’s not the same.
The paranoid fantasies may not work, but if you just focus on Tom Harper, who has an enormous amount of screen time, you’ll get some pleasant fantasies out of "Surveillance 24/7" instead.
Director: Paul Oremland
Cast: Dawn Steele, Sean Brosnan and Simon Callow
Screened by Fort Worth’s Q Cinema on Feb. 27 at 8 p.m.
at the Four Day Weekend Theater, 312 Houston St.
Tickets $8. 1 hr. 27 min.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 22, 2008