There will be spoilers…
I hadn’t heard much about Watcher (2022) before I went to see it in theaters. I was actually looking up films to see on a certain night, which is the only reason it came across my awareness at all.
The film was co-written and directed by Chloe Okuno. Watcher stars Maika Monroe, who carries us through almost totally on her own. Monroe’s performance is fantastic. I’m excited to learn more about this actor and watch more of her work. She was not only believable, she was relatable. She portrays a woman who recently moved to a foreeign city (Bucharest), mostly alone as her husband wines and dines his clients. Monroe’s character starts to feel unsafe as she notices a figure in a window across the street watching her. He watches her constantly. Always lingering. Things escalate as the pursuit escalates beyond window watching and into the real world.
This film has an interesting pacing. It was a slow burn tension builder, so much so that I was surprised how unnerved I was in the final minutes. The crux of the tension is two fold. Her disbelieving and distracted husband, and of course, the growing threat of the watching neighbor. At one point, I was almost hoping the neighbor was guilty, so that our main character was justified. Because I was so angry at her husband.
The sound design also stood out, especially in a theater. The musical cues and jump scares made me feel uneasy throughout. And the cinematography felt fresh and beautiful at the same time. Great use of reflections and symmetry.
Even before the danger was clear. I especially loved how both Monroe’s character and the Watcher shift roles throughout, their actions mimic each other. Creating a cyclic story, but of course they have very different motives.
The film is simple. Only a few characters. Only a few locations. But incredibly effective. To me, this film embodies everything a Thriller should be. It flirts with the lines between drama, horror, thriller, myster, but the suspense it builds is almost overwhelming. I’m excited for more from Monroe and more from Okuno.