Time: 91 Minutes
Maika Monroe as Julia
Karl Glusman as Francis
Burn Gorman as Daniel Weber
Director: Chloe Okuno
As a serial killer stalks the city, a young actress who just moved to town with her boyfriend notices a mysterious stranger watching her from across the street.
I knew only a little about Watcher, just that it was a thriller about Maika Monroe being stalked by someone. While the movie doesn’t have many surprises, it nonetheless works very well at what it sets out to do.
Watcher is a psychological and paranoid thriller which takes its time as a slow burn. It leans more into subtle and nuanced storytelling and is powerfully effective as it slowly builds its suspense. The tension unfolds slows and there is a real sense of dread and paranoia. Storywise its pretty standard, straightforward and simple, and it doesn’t really surprise at any point. However I was nonetheless riveted and interested to see how it would play out. The added element of the protagonist being in a different country with a language barrier does add a lot to it; it helped to make the lead character played by Maika Monroe feel more isolated even before she finds someone stalking her. In terms of any actual criticisms outside of its familiarity, I thought that the ending was a little abrupt.
One of Watcher’s biggest strengths is Maika Monroe as the lead character who is being followed. She effectively conveys the isolation, struggle and helplessness of her situation in a very believable performance. She is great and one of the highlights of the film. The rest of the actors are fine but nothing special and there’s not much to say about them. The exception is Burn Gorman who plays the stalker (or titular Watcher). We see glimpses of him before seeing his face and even after the film shows his face, it’s a while before we hear his voice. Without saying or doing much, Gorman is great at conveying this unsettling aura about him.
Chloe Okuno directed Watcher very well, this is a very impressive debut for her. The cinematography is slick and well done, and I particularly like how it captures the stranger, initially obscuring him and putting you in the protagonist’s position. That combined with the quieter moments, and the unsettling sound design and the eerie score from Nathan Halpern help to make you feel unnerved.
Watcher is a great paranoia and psychological thriller. Despite its familiar setup, its directed strongly and is led by an excellent and convincing performance from Maika Monroe, making it worth checking out.