Fear and dread haunts every frame in this engaging slow burn psychological thriller….
One of the reasons why I love the horror genre so much is that over the last month we have had releases that are so different from each other and yet all bring some level of high entertainment to its viewer. While the likes of BARBARIAN offered a fear of dread at the start, the plot flipped to a rollocking good ride where laughs were just as important as the scares it tried to serve.
WATCHER starts the same. There is an air of foreboding right from when the credits start to roll that captures your imagination and yet unlike that previous film, it decides for the majority of its running time to stay in this vein, refusing to bow down to cheap “jump out of your seat” moments. There is an extreme level of confidence in first time director Chloe Okuno film debut which bodes well for her future within the genre as she serves up one of the best of 2022.
IT FOLLOW’s Maika Monroe plays Julia a young woman who struggles to adapt to a new phase of her life, having left behind an acting career to head too Bucharest in support of her husband’s new job. While Francis (Karl Glusman) family linage means he can easily adapt and speak the country’s language fluently, Julia feels lost in these new surroundings, a feeling of lonely and emptiness as she walks the streets trying to figure out what direction her life is heading towards.
There is something also quite scary when you are in a new place, unable to understand what is being spoken around you and where those unfamiliar streets head towards and it doesn’t help that there is local serial killer named “The Spider” stalking the streets, brutally killing young women. Julia feels there is something coming from the moment she gets out of the taxi and arrives in her new surroundings, a quick glance up to the building opposite her new home and she spots a shadowy figure from a room looking down on her. At first, she dismisses this as “nothing”, but then he is there, always… the watcher….
What feels like a throwback to the great horrors from the 70’s and 80’s and most notably a Hitchcock vibe, WATCHER is a classic example of how to make a great film without the need of the usual standard horror cliches. Little use of no subtitles in scenes which we share with Julia the question “what are these strangers saying?” makes your imagination soar and the fear of isolation in which we all share is the driving fear factor to what makes this such an enjoyable treat.
You could bemoan that the film sells out towards the finale with a gory conclusion that offers a zanier approach than expected, but to arrive at that point in the first place is one of the main reasons why WATCHER will no doubt be in many TOP 10 lists of 2022 when the year ends.
4 HATCHETS OUT OF 5