Let’s listen to each other.

Watcher follows young couple Julia (Maika Monroe) and Francis (Karl Glusman) as they have just moved from New York to Bucharest for Francis to take a promotion. He speaks Romanian, and this is a homecoming for him. Julia is immediately isolated and notices someone in an apartment across from their own is watching her, constantly.

The couple also hears news of a serial killer stalking the streets and killing women. Julia begins to sense that she is being followed. Are her fears justified or is she just being paranoid?

Watcher is a smashing success to do a few different aspects of the film. The first is the feeling of tension and unease that never relents. Julia is not comfortable in her own home and not safe outside of it. Francis, who thinks she is just being silly, spends too much time and work and refuses to listen to her. It is simply easier for him to ignore the problem.

Julia befriends neighbor Irina (Madalina Anea) who tells Julia that maybe she should hope she is wrong because being able to say “I told you so” after being raped and/or murdered is a small prize. The idea of not listening to people is the core of the film.

Where the film excels from good to great is the excellent performances. Maika Monroe does a fantastic job at presenting constant unease and disappointment in Francis. Likewise, Karl Glusman plays his part fantastically, now, you’re not going to like his character too much but he does a great job. 

The power of the gaze plays a large part in this film. Further, Julia looks back at the man watching her, which disrupts the usual subject/object binary of voyeurism. I like that they made Julia a bit of a snoop, which allows her to see what is happening and complicates the film. However, the film also focuses largely on the role of intent, which is to say there is no false equivalency being made (though characters will try to say there is). 

The less I say about the plot the more you will enjoy the film. For fans of tense slow-burns, I think this may be the best thriller of the year.

Check it out!

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