Although hindered by a few frustrations in the second act, Watcher makes good use of it’s settings and has a few scenes itching with tension. There are moments where one would wish the plot would propel itself forward and it seems reluctant to jump; opting instead to walk steadily, slowly, but still in a way we can appreciate to an extent. It’s a clear look at style over substance but style still gets the job done.
Julia (Maika Monroe) has moved to Romania with her fiance Francis (Karl Glusman) for his new job. She feels like an outsider almost immediately as she doesn’t know the language, is unaccustomed to the culture, and is stuck at home without a job as she’s trying to figure out a new career. As she stares out the spacious windows that are still not adorned with curtains she notices a figure watching her across the street. She then feels like a stranger in a brown coat is following her in markets and theaters. Is it the same person? I dare not say.
The theater sequence is one of the best as the ‘watcher’ sits behind her, his chair creaking and squeaking as he leans in and some audience members may feel the need to lean away. Director Chloe Okuno comprises some fun shots with her DP Benjamin Kirk Nielsen, but there’s only so much that is done with the simple premise. Still they have their moments such as a beautiful shot of rain cascading down the titular windows and the way Julia is often dwarfed by the buildings around her to establish her loneliness. All good details that don’t have the most compelling story to help it along.
A few plot elements keep things moving. There’s rumors of a serial killer stalking the streets, Julia is left alone more as Francis, like any unreliable horror husband, is always out for work. When the watcher is revealed to be reliable actor Burn Gorman, he makes the most with his few lines and hardened stares. The acting in general is good and as expected, we are reminded of Hitchcockian classics like Rear Window when the staring contests begins.
What I would have liked is a story willing to take some risks or have something to really say about how women are often not taken seriously when they report things like stalkers. Even though the plot leans that way, there isn’t much of a conversation being had. There are scenes with Francis that are pointing in the right direction as he makes dismissive jokes but I ended up wanting more. Julia has moments of resourcefulness and strength but they feel too far and in between as the film takes a little long to escalate the conflict. There’s a good deal of stares and characters following one another but not much in the way of personality.
Those are my thoughts as it pertains to how compelling this film may be to some. I do think it captures some aspects of isolation very well and no doubt many will be able to relate to Julia’s situation as the watcher’s continued intrusion in her life reaches a deadly point in it’s fairly good climax. Getting there requires a little bit of patience and work from the audience though. It still is well constructed and should encourage every person to buy some curtains.
Follow HorrOrigins on Social Media