Stories are more frightening when the horrors within them are real. Sure, we all shudder at child-slaughtering clowns, blood-thirsty vampires, and brain-chomping zombies, but I think we can all agree that there’s nothing scarier than man. Taking that very literally is Watcher, the latest in female anxiety horror that takes an incredibly simple premise and turns it into a nightmarish, Hitchcockian tale of obsession and murder.
As a serial killer stalks the city, a young actress (Maika Monroe) who just moved to town with her boyfriend (Karl Glusman) notices a mysterious stranger watching her from across the street.
This is a stunningly-crafted little chiller. At a refreshingly brief 96 minutes, Watcher tells its frightening tale at a brisk pace with plentiful shocks peppered throughout. The film excels in its largely dialogue-free sequences of suspense, as the cat-and-mouse tale focuses its energy on scenes of stalking while keeping the film’s villain compellingly mysterious. There are interesting elements thrown in that question who is the true Watcher as Monroe’s Julia becomes more obsessed with her neighbour and begins to watch him back. And of course the entire film is indeed a chilling portrayal of victim-blaming and a lack of belief in women; male characters frequently dismiss Julie’s claims as paranoid and delusional.
Maika Monroe is incredible, portraying a genuine terror and fear as it organically grows within her. With each interaction she has with the watcher, you can see her psyche subtly fracturing further – if the awards circuit could grow up and recognise horror, Monroe would certainly have found herself on the ballots this year. Burn Gorman is memorably chilling, too, in a supporting role.
The film never falters and concludes with a hell of a bang. It’s a superb chiller that is deserving of your attention. Watch it.