A young lady and her fiancé move into a new apartment, but she is plagued by the fear of being watched by an unknown observer in the opposite building. Perhaps there’s not as much respect for simple-parts horror films like Chloe Okuno’s Watcher, which is the directorial debut of Okuno (who directed the “Storm Drain” piece from V/H/S/94).
As a thriller, “Watcher” is more than capable of drawing viewers into a suspenseful stalker mystery. The genuine performances of the actors help to enhance the film’s repetitious tendencies and predetermined conclusion. “Watcher” is an above-average horror film, although it’s not particularly noteworthy.
Julia, played by Maika Monroe, is a former actress who only just relocated to Bucharest, Romania with her husband Francis, played by Karl Glusman. Francis is in the marketing industry and has a demanding work, thus Julia is frequently left to fend for herself both during the day and at night.
The storyline of Watcher is not complicated thanks to Okuno and Zack Ford’s script, which they wrote together. On the other hand, this specific subgenre is full with clichés and tropes that are quite known to readers. It appears as though the husband listens to his wife’s concerns about their safety for only a few minutes before dismissing them as if she is acting irrationally and trying to get his attention because she is paranoid. Except for one enticing female neighbour who appears to be in a precarious situation herself, the neighbours in their immediate vicinity are growing increasingly antagonistic and believe the American is the source of the problem. The public is put in danger as a result of the police department’s failure to investigate the serial murderer. The use of strategies such as “gaslighting,” “voyeurism,” and others makes the scenario an even greater threat.
Because Okuno has a clear idea of what she wants her narrative to accomplish, she gives us a total of ninety minutes. There is no space for scepticism regarding Julia because that aspect of the movie is not the focus. Neither the way it was filmed nor the way it was edited gives you any reason to doubt her sanity. You are supporting her cause. The way in which Okuno builds on the tension is what makes Watcher one of the most fascinating parts of the book. We find out that Julia does not speak Romanian in the very first moment of dialogue that we see her in. The movie doesn’t even bother to put English subtitles on the screen for us, which is a technique that has been used in other movies, such as To the Ends of the Earth by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Both of those movies make the audience feel the protagonist’s sense of isolation by not showing them subtitles for themselves.
The performance that Monroe gives in “Watcher” is the most important aspect of the film. Since the screenplay doesn’t provide much in the way of character development, it’s up to Monroe to make us care about Julia’s narrative. She instantly gives the audience someone to root for by displaying the ideal combination of vulnerability and astute intelligence. A supporting role played by Burn Gorman as a neighbour who is worried Julia is stalking him enlivens the second half of the film. Gorman imbues the character with the ideal mix of bashful friendliness, worry, and unsettling ambiguity.
This is another another horror film in which the “target” is seen as mentally ill by some. When it comes to instilling a developing fear that something dreadful is about to happen, “Watcher” does the best job. There’s also a mysterious figure lurking around the apartment complex, and viewers are left guessing until the last 30 minutes as to whether he may be the legendary Spider serial murderer.
The psychological dismantling of the protagonist is more important to the plot of “Watcher” than any action or events that may occur. Its capacity to make viewers experience claustrophobia and paranoia is largely responsible for the film’s positive reception from critics. In order to craft a suspenseful psychological thriller that builds gradually and reaches a gratifying climax, Okuno deftly employs strategies that were previously used in other films.
Ultimately, despite some problems with the film’s pacing and the inclusion of some scenes that aren’t necessary and don’t add anything of substance to the overall plot, Chloe Okuno’s Watcher is an effective horror-thriller. The film is at its strongest when it examines the anxiety and paranoia of our primary protagonist.
On Friday, June 3, 2022, Watcher was shown in cinemas all throughout the United States for the first time. The film had its world debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2022, and it was also screened as part of the official selection at the SXSW Film Festival in 2022.
There has been no word on whether Watcher will be available digitally or via video on demand. In the case of the DVD and Blu-ray releases of Watcher, there is a time gap between the film’s debut in theatres and its arrival on home video. DVDs and Blu-rays are often made available for purchase around three to four months following their initial release in theatres. This is the industry norm. Therefore, you should anticipate the similar timetable for Watcher as well, which would suggest that the physical media may be released some time in September or October 2022 at the earliest.