Saturday 2 March 2024

Movie Review: Watcher (2022)

Genre: Suspense  
Director: Chloe Okuno  
Starring: Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman, Burn Gorman  
Running Time: 96 minutes  

Synopsis: Couple Julia and Francis (Maika Monroe and Karl Glusman) relocate their lives from New York to Bucharest, where Francis has secured a job promotion. His family is originally from Romania and he knows the language, but Julia is an outsider. Left alone all day and struggling with a language barrier, she notices a neighbour (Burn Gorman) incessantly staring at her from a window across the courtyard. Her anxiety is heightened when a murder occurs in the neighbourhood, and she starts to sense she is being followed. Julia befriends vivacious neighbour Irina (Mădălina Anea), but Francis provides little support.

What Works Well: The traditional woman-in-danger plot features a patient build-up in a foreign city, where Julia's inability to converse stifles her opportunities to integrate. Director Chloe Okuno adds the drab surroundings of a nondescript apartment (but with enormous windows) and less-than-attractive streetscapes to heighten Julia's loneliness and fragility. In the central role, Maika Monroe excels as a self-conscious cultural intruder flailing against the unfamiliar, then confronting the reality of looming danger and a husband who cares less than he should. A brooding and stone-faced Burn Gorman revels in the awkward mannerisms of a bogeyman. 

What Does Not Work As Well: The pacing is committed to a slow burn, and the suspense flickers on and mostly off for most of the duration. The deliberate lack of clarity about the threat - is Julia actually in danger or is it all in her head - does add intrigue, but at the price of narrative energy, and her predicament is not helped by questionable plot logic gaps.

Conclusion: In a new city, good curtains are a must.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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