Watcher – Review

Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 36 minutes, Director – Chloe Okuno

Having moved with her husband (Karl Glusman) from New York to Bucharest, Julia (Maika Monroe) begins to suspect that she is being constantly followed by a man (Burn Gorman) living in the building right across the street.

There’s a very traditional feel to the opening stages of Watcher. A quick set-up throws us into the eerie chills which haunt Maika Monroe’s Julia as she suspects that she’s being stalked by a man in the building across from her apartment block. She’s recently moved from New York to Bucharest with her husband, Francis (Karl Glusman). However, while he speaks Romanian she’s still learning and finds it difficult to communicate with others in her building, aside from neighbour Irina (Madalina Anea). Her increasing feelings of isolation heighten the tension and worry she feels as she both tries to escape being stalked and yet begins to follow the man she suspects of following her (Burn Gorman).

Plenty of elements come together to create the form of a classic chiller. It helps to engage and generally pushes the film as a whole. Its traditional tones mixed with a handful of modern stylings are brought to life through writer-director Chloe Okuno’s direction, mixed with a brilliant central performance from Maika Monroe who perfectly captures the inner, and eventually outer, fear her character is feeling.

As things progress the more modern elements of the film show as the darkness becomes more a part of the central narrative. Glimpses of an investigation into a serial-killer known as The Spider go from being mentioned in the news to playing an active part in Julia’s own investigation. While this increased darkness may somewhat change the styling and slight feel of the film there’s still a consistency to the narrative and the flow feels undisturbed. Tension still manages to rise throughout the short and fast-flowing run-time. Things might dip in the final stages as the film tries to keep its pace while making sure it brings things to a dramatic conclusion but, once again, the engagement is still there; with plenty of this down to the performances at the centre of the piece.

Things are effectively progressed and generally feel as if they avoid repetition, helping with the aforementioned flow and consistency. With the stylistic shifts which appear throughout there’s still tension and engagement thanks to the stripped back nature of the opening stages and how quickly the core situation is built up. The initial paranoia develops, of course clashing with attempts from others to rationalise, with the suspense rising in a number of scenes and situations. Convention may come into play, but when present it’s often questioned as to whether the film may go in a different direction with certain new pieces of information instead of just being accepted. Everything flows through the short time and while there might not be as much of a ‘classic’ feeling in terms of style towards the end there’s still an indie thriller future audience hit feeling to the film as a whole.

There’s an interesting mix of traditional and modern stylings within Watcher, while it might lean towards the latter more with the increased darkness there’s still plenty of tense scenes and sequences thanks to Okuno’s direction and Maika Monroe’s superb central performance.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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