Director: Chloe Okuno
Writer: Chloe Okuno
Starring: Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman, Burn Gorman
Watcher is a paranoia thriller from Chloe Okuno, who previously directed the Storm Drain segment of V/H/S/94. It follows Julia (Maika Monroe) who moves to Romania since her husband, Francis (Karl Glusman) has been given a promotion. They move into an apartment and Julia notices that across the street there is someone who is watching her. Shortly afterwards Julia gets the feeling that she’s being watched everywhere, and at the same time there’s a serial killer killing women of a similar age in the area. After being followed from a cinema into a supermarket, Julia starts to suspect that the serial killer may be following her.
The story gets going straight away, with Julia noticing the man staring at her through the window as soon as she reaches their new apartment. There’s literally no time wasted at the start before the central mystery is revealed. The entire film keeps a brisk pace, and being around ninety minutes it’s refreshingly short and sweet. However, within this there is next to no character development. Julia used to be an actress, but that life wasn’t for her. That’s pretty much all we know about her. Francis works in advertising and seems to work all the time. They seem to have a good relationship, but it’s not really shown on screen after the opening scene. The under-baked characters means the tension just isn’t as high as it could be.
Despite this, the central mystery is still engaging. The idea of knowing that someone is watching you at all times, and no one believes you is scary and feels like it could be very realistic. Especially when combined with being in a different country where you don’t speak the language very well, so you’re completely isolated. It’s a scary idea and Julia is almost completely alone. Her husband is working pretty much constantly, and the one friend that she makes, her next-door neighbour, goes missing very quicky. It’s atmosphere is really creepy, and there’s a couple of jump scare moments as well.
There’s a really frustrating, admittedly really small moment early on is where Julia is sitting in a café, reading about the serial killer on her laptop, and watches a video that’s in English and Romanian and she’s not wearing headphones, so surely everyone is just being forced to listen to the almost victim tell what happened when she was attacked by the killer. The ending is a little underwhelming, it feels quite rushed and a little too unbelievable. It’s not a satisfying conclusion to the mystery. It does its job, but it’s not a great ending.
While it’s let down by paper-thin characters, and a predictable plot, Watcher still has a creepy atmosphere and an engaging mystery. The alienation being abroad and not speaking the language is also really well done. Overall, it’s nothing special, but still entertaining while it’s on.
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Thanks for reviewing this one, it’s the first I’ve read. I put this in my queue and have started to watch it a couple of times but was afraid it might be a waste of time. Sounds like it will be worth a try.
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It’s definitely worth a watch if you don’t have anything else to see, but I wouldn’t recommend choosing it over something else.
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