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MOVIES: Watcher - Review

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A tense, claustrophobic horror film that plunges us into the unknowns of a foreign city, in fear and disarray - Watcher is a debut from Chloe Okuno that openly references Rear Window and draws homage from David Fincher; in a display of voyeuristic paranoia. The film plays up the fear of being in an alien city not knowing the language and being isolated from even your own - in a tense, suspense-filled thriller.

Maika Monroe's Julia finds herself the target of a mysterious man who looks at her in the window across the street from the next door whilst a serial killer known as the Spider targets its victims when she moves to a new surrounding in a strange land. Struggling to fit in, Julia finds herself increasingly isolated, lonely and scared - as anyone does moving to a city alone for a first time. The paranoia is used expertly by Okuno - the cinematography is striking by Benjamin Kirk Nielsen - really getting under your skin. It establishes the visuals expertly; and the locations are a clear draw - eye catchingly beautiful in the day, dark and terrifying at night.

The film maybe plays its hand a bit too early however and the plot ramps up in a fairly predictable way - the usage of Chekov's Gun is a bit too obvious and it immediately gave the game away for where this thing was going for me. But it does pull off most of it really well - the dread, fear and lack of trust that Julia faces is captured expertly by Maika Monroe, who delivers the best performance of her career - extraordinarily good. You buy every moment.

The lack of new ground here is probably the film's biggest weakness and it wears its influences on its sleeve. It needed to be bolder; but for a debut, there's nothing overtly bad. It just means that after a strong start it kind of peters out - and renders itself largely forgettable, which is a real shame - despite Monroe's best efforts and a chilling performance by Burn Gorman, who is downright terrifying every time he's on screen.

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