At 24, Jennifer Lynch proved she was daddy David’s smart little girl with her first film, Boxing Helena, a nasty comedy about a beauty (played by Sherilyn Fenn) who refuses to submit to her wormy kidnapper and stalker Jeremy Irons—even after he cuts off her limbs. Lynch’s second film comes a decade later, a tidy thriller about two FBI investigators (Julia Ormond and Bill Pullman) interviewing three witnesses the morning after a grisly murder. Two of them—a junkie (Pell James) and a real prick of a cop (French Stewart, genuinely menacing)—have reasons to blur the truth. The third is a somber 8-year-old girl (Ryan Thompkins) who’s just seen her family killed, including mom Cheri Oteri. Lynch has fun upending casting conventions, hiring network comedians for straight roles and square do-gooders as the surprise psychokillers. Two-thirds of Surveillance is taut and absorbing, and her victims’ flashbacks heavy with dread, yet the cheap third act twist feels tacked on from a lesser talent, say one whose last name rhymes with ‘Pshyamalan.’ Lynch shares her father’s inability to end a film, but at least she also shares his knack for putting together from ensemble to soundtrack to camerawork the potential of a great movie, unrealized.

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