Observance 2015 Movie Mindjob Recommendation. Occasionally, rarely, I will find myself with a randomly wide open 2 hours staring me in the face. (I did mention it was rare, but it has been known to happen.) Well, yesterday was one of those days. I found myself with a swath of time, but nothing to watch. There wasn’t a new episode of Severance out yet. I had just finished posting a video discussion of the 10 least read posts on THiNC. (and therefore, the most overlooked good movies people are missing out on) over on Patreon. (I’ve started doing all manner of video posts over there, an End of Year Recap, The Novice movie discussion, an Elephant Song deep dive, Lamb, and on and on…) You should come on out and join us on Patreon and on Discord chat server.
Where was I again? OH RIGHT. So, sometimes, I have a moment, and will, inevitably, go running into the Discord, and will just yell to whoever is there… “What am I watching… RIGHT NOW??” and luckily, Chris was there, along with @Gardengurl (welcome!) and Chris pointed me to the movie Observance. Which, in his defense, he’d pointed me to before. But somehow it clicked this time. If you’ve never heard of it – you will be forgiven.
Alright, let’s get down to it, shall we?
Observance Movie Walkthrough
The movie Observance is a movie about grief. Parker has recently lost his son to some unknown illness. He’s also lost his wife Rachel due to the grief of losing their son. She won’t pick up his calls, or return his messages. The loss of his son has also put him under a massive strain of debt. 107k in debt to be exact. (Side note… not sure where you are reading this from… but this is Hollywood make believe right here. Parker’s son was in the hospital for over 200 days.)
Now, there is literally no way, on God’s gloriously green earth that they averaged only $400 a day… which is what this averages. In America… the land of the free and the brave and the hospital monopolies… the average cost per day is somewhere around $3,000 depending on the state (California is the most expensive) and on the triage costs per day. IE, what is it that you are suffering from? So unless Parker was cranking payments at a ridiculous rate while his son was in the hospital this is the silliest movie screw up I’ve ever seen. So why don’t we just make that $100k debt and make it somewhere closer to $700,000 mentally in our heads, shall we? I only make this point because hospital fees, and healthcare in the United States is just stupid. </endrant>)
Why was Parker’s son in the hospital? We don’t really know. (I have a theory. You’ll have to wait for it though.) But just feel free to add it to the million items we definitely don’t know about this movie. So, in order to start paying this crazy debt, Parker takes a surveillance job. He’s asked by his secretive employer to watch a woman. What is he watching for? We don’t know. He’s given a spot across the street from Tenneal’s home, and he quickly begins setting up lines of sight. He eventually sets up audio into the house. But, along the way, very strange things begin to happen in his surveillance spot. The covered up windows uncover themselves. The walls leak blood. There are rodents in the house, and dead parts of vermin remains. There are weird squiggly things living in the water. The water magically and randomly gets rapidly hotter, and scalds Parker regularly. Why? Why is the house doing this to him? Let’s add this to the elongating list of things we just don’t know, shall we?
And what do we learn about Tenneal the further into the job Parker goes? Nothing really. We know that she’s a recluse, and very rarely goes out. We know that she estranged from her boyfriend, but that he has come back to try and get her to leave. Why? He also regularly hits Tenneal… it so disturbs Parker so much that he almost intercedes. But ultimately, like his employer asks of him, he doesn’t get involved.
The Ending of Observance Movie Explained
OK, so that is a pretty spammy-centric troll of a subheading right there. Can I explain Observance to you? Nah, probably not. But I have a PILE of theories, and I also have one that I think I like. I will note that I have reached out to Joseph Sims-Dennett, like nine different ways, and I’m really trying hard to talk to him about this movie. We’ll see if I’m eventually successful. (Also, if any of you know him, or know how to contact him – Chris and I have tried email, instagram, facebook, linkedin, etc., etc… We would love your help.) Regardless, I think one of these theories will strike your fancy… with that caveat, let’s talk through the end of the movie.
Eventually, while Parker is watching, Tenneal’s boyfriend returns and is fairly frantic that she should leave with him. She should leave the city, leave the house… just go. But Tenneal is having none of it. She will not leave. And with that, her boyfriend leaps from the window to his death. I kid you not. I’m thinking we should probably add that to our growing list of questions we will never be able to explain. After he jumps to his death, Tenneal notices something happening at Parker’s house and she barges in to see what is going on. She discovers Parker’s camera pointing out the window towards her house, and then finds him making a boar head thing:
Please note, we see another boar in this movie. It is on the pendant. But we will get to that later. Because, right now, we have bigger fish to fry. When Parker notices that Tenneal is here in his house, the two begin fighting. And ultimately, Parker bludgeons her to death. Why? Wouldn’t the simple thing be for him to be like… “Look, this seems weird and all, but someone has hired me to surveil your house. Their purpose is fairly vague, but I’m not the guy you should be angry with.” Regardless, Parker murders Tenneal, and with that, the movie ends. But before it does, we watch as blood drips, and runs from Tenneal, and coalesces in her hand… in which, there is another boar pendant. Let’s take a look at that thing in her hand up close again…
It literally is another boar pendant. Huh. Why? What is going on here? But first, maybe we should take a peak at the list of questions that we were left with at the end of the movie:
The Enormous List of Things We Don’t Know About Observance
- How did Parker’s son die?
- Why is Parker surveilling Tenneal?
- What is happening in the home he’s taken up residence in?
- Is Parker host to some worm-like evil?
- What is the deal with the other woman with a pendant who died?
- Why does Tenneal’s boyfriend want her to leave?
- Why does Tenneal’s boyfriend commit suicide?
- Why did Parker murder Tenneal?
- What is the deal with the pendant?
- And why did both Parker and Tenneal have one?
- What is the deal with the ring?
Observance Theory #1 – The Vendetta
The Vendetta theory is unhinged and based solely on conjecture from beginning to end. If you hare hoping for a theory based on fact, just move along, and head on over to theory #2. But The Vendetta theory is just the idea that Tenneal has incurred the wrath of some random entity… and said entity has marshaled the resources of Tenneal’s boyfriend/husband, a random observer, and maybe even spiritual resources against her. What could she have done that would have justified this level of vendetta-ness? No idea. Maybe she’s mean. Maybe she hurt someone. Maybe she incited the agita of the mafia because of a missed debt. Who knows? Who cares? The bottom line? She messed with the wrong people, and those people ended up killing her in the end.
Problems with Observance Theory #1 – The Vendetta
I mean, other than the fact that it’s literally the dumbest theory I’ve ever come up with? Other than that? In an attempt to make those of you who can’t cope with spiritual, or other-worldly answers, I tossed this out there as the most material, or literal answer possible for this crazy movie. But in so doing? We’ve completely missed out on the single biggest thing going on here… and that is the spiritual component of this movie.
Observance Theory #2 – The Spiritual Angle
There sort of seemed to be an oppression, a piling on of evil that swirled throughout this entire movie. I mean, other than the horrible flashes of the dead son, the wife, and what not. There is this black oil seeping from the ceiling. There was some sort of evil leech that was in the water, and infested Parker. Could it be he needs a very real world exterminator? Maybe. But it feels more like there is some sort of evil that has manifested the flat.
We have a man who has lost his wife over the terrible death of his son due to some just awful disease or something. Parker and Rachel, his parents, do absolutely everything they can… but he still dies. And as a result, Rachel abandons Parker, and never takes any of his calls. He owes over $100 grand in debt for his son’s death… and he refuses to try and negotiate it down. Why? Because it’s a metaphor for sin, spiritual debt, and his need to make atonement for his failings to his son. And regardless of how well intentioned he was, he failed… and Parker knows that he deserves a life of debt and darkness… hell.
Problems with Observance Theory #2 – The Spiritual Angle
Let me get this straight. Dude doesn’t get his son the hospital care he thinks he should have, and you think God curses him for it or something? That makes zero sense. No. I see it more like what we see on the screen is a physical manifestation of a father’s spiritual guilt at failing his son. God really has nothing to do with this idea of the spiritual. Parker has owned this spiritual debt and, as he is attempting to carry the weight of his own debts, he breaks. But there are glitches to this theory. When there is a spiritual answer to a movie, almost invariably, the movie makers will go over the top to play out the religious stereotypical details to tip their hand. And there wasn’t a single spiritual allusion in this whole movie, at least that I saw anyway.
Observance Theory #3 – The Guilt
This one is literally the simplest explanation. Parker is a father in grief. And he is broken by the grief. And this manifests itself in the fact that, in his mind, he has twisted a simple job to P.I. a woman, into some larger evil plot. Instead of just doing the job, collecting his $15k, and leaving… the solitary confinement after his son’s death drives him to the brink of insanity. Simple as that. He snaps under the stress of losing his son. Are there worms in his milk? No. Was he coughing up bile worm infestations? No. Did he kill the woman? Maybe. Maybe not. Lots of this movie was simply happening in Parker’s head if this movie is what I think it is.
Problems with Observance Theory #3 – The Guilt
Wait, WHAT? You are telling me that this man, who is just riddled with guilt, is seeing evil hell spawn coming out of his skin, coughed out into his sink… this guy is just guilty that he didn’t save his son? Then explain the weird guy on the phone telling him to just stay on the job. Explain the pointlessness of this job. Explain Tenneal’s husband/boyfriend… what is that all about? And that ending?
Observance Theory #4 – The Boar Amulet
This theory is the most physically based, and the only theory with actual proof… actual, movie supplied, data. So how does the amulet theory work exactly? Well, it starts with a curse. A necklace, and a curse. There is a moment in the film, where we get the first evidence of a woman who dies, and a pendant set back in the 1800’s or something. This is death #1. Then, somehow, the boar amulet makes it to Parker’s son’s christening gift. The pendant ends up killing Parker’s son, and inflicts over a hundred grand in debt to Rachel and Parker’s family. Then, the amulet makes its way to Parker, and his life goes to hell in a hand-basket.
But somehow, in some way, Tenneal also had a boar amulet as well. She was also cursed in some way. It explains the weird abstract request for Parker to surveil her. It explains the danger and strangeness that surrounds her. Her suicidally abusive boyfriend. It explains the man staring at her through the window. These two people, they are star-crossed lovers. They are tortured loves bound together on the same freight train going over a cliff. They don’t stand a chance. And it’s because they are cursed. And the curse ends up killing them both… sure, Parker isn’t quite dead yet, but it’s only a matter of time. He’s moments away from death as the movie ends.
Observance Movie Final Thoughts
This movie was made in something like eleven, 20-hour days. It was made for something like $11k. And it was made by two guys that had been recently sacked, and they were passionate about making a full-length feature. It was eating them up. But the movie they were just working on had just exploded. Up in flames. So they didn’t have a movie. But Joseph Sims-Dennett, as he was falling asleep, saw fevered dreams of a man, spying on a woman. He was locked out. He was being kept from her, like he was being kept from making his movie. It was a metaphor. A metaphor of his elusive muse toying with him. And it’s because of that, because of that elusive genesis story, it sort of unlocked for me.
The story is a heap. It could use a tighter edit. And a clearer thread running through the middle of it. But I think I see it now. It’s the story of an artist who has hit dire straights, and a man determined to push through in spite of himself. It’s also a story of a tragedy playing out in front of our eyes. Of two star-crossed, doomed people, that are steaming towards each other at horrible speeds.
Edited by: CY