Chicago Critics Film Festival: Watcher Review

There are many real-life scenarios in the world we live in that make people feel unsafe and insecure. Watcher is one of those thrillers that lures its audience in with creepy fragments. Thehorror as seen through the eyes of actress Maika Monroe feels real. Watcher is directed by Chole Okuno, and this may be one of her most stylish directing projects yet. Okuno has a keen eye for what disturbs her viewers, and she carries that disturbance throughout Watcher. The film is set in a world of misbelief and terror for one individual who fears for her safety day in and day out. Fans will struggle to grasp the potential outcomes of what is to come of Watcher. The struggling, however, is what makes Watcher destined to be a masterpiece horror flick.

The film takes place in Bucharest Romania. Monroe plays Julie, a young actress living with her boyfriend and starting a new life. Her boyfriend is Francis, and he is played by Karl Gusman. Francis has a successful career, and Julie stays home. She enjoys her happy life with little to no financial responsibility in their luxurious apartment. All that changes when she realizes a man is watching her apartment from his window and looking right at hers. As she begins to question her safety many more realizations arise which lead to confusion for herself and Francis. Julie feels she is stalked, and Francis does not believe it is that serious. The stalking grows even more pervasive, and Francis struggles to be on the same page as Julie. As the days and weeks go on, Julie feels her safety is more at risk which takes her to a breaking point. Watcher kept me curious about when the man who is watching Julie would carry out his evil duty.

The image of the happy couple in the beginning of the film becomes quickly tainted. The situation becomes more dangerous when Julie puts herself at increased risk by getting authorities involved. However, the man who is watching her has some added motives which only lead to more trust issues for Francis. At that point, what Francis thinks or feels does not matter, it is whether Julie will be safe or not. The growing tensions as thestalker gets closer creates an atmosphere of uncertainty in Watcher.

My head was spinning during Watcher due to the plot combined with the in-depth psychological horror. Psychological scenarios in films can go in many directions. Watcher stays on asuspenseful track and makes the audience feel like they are taking an evil journey during the film. Audience members are left to ask them questions like: Is Francis at fault in any way? Is Julie crazy? Is her stalker that dangerous? The film has answers to all those questions, but many of the outcomes are mesmerizing and unexpected.

Another notable element in this movie is the realism of the terror. I felt the stalking seemed real, and the violence did too.Watcher depicts many details of what creepy and scary can look like in today’s world. It is a thrill ride of suspense with little to no time to find the answers.

I was hooked on this movie and the innocence Monroe’s acting. She is brilliant in films where she is the one facing various dangers ahead of her. She displays the same level of terror as she did in It Follows (2014). Only this time around, she is the one trying to stop what is possibly going to kill her. Three and a half stars for Watcher.


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