Sundance 2022: “Watcher”

©Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

It happens to some of us when we grow worried and irritated that we begin to feel someone is following us and can’t do much about it. It happens either by accident or we are more aware of our surroundings. One way or another, it’s just us, our fruit of imagination or there is a stalker around we just can’t spot yet?

Julia (Maika Monroe) just moved to Romania with her husband Francis (Karl Glusman). As a former actor, she tries to build up a sensible life in her husband’s native country and does her best to fit in by beginning to learn Romanian. However, her idyllic and quiet life is being disturbed by her constant feeling that she is being watched by her neighbor (Burn Gurman). The problem is, nobody believes her.

By the time the couple arrives in Bucharest, the police are warning people about a serial killer on the loose known as the Spider. Because of the gap in language, Julia can’t really tell much as she watches the news, and her spouse is mostly never around to help with translation. All that adds up to her alienation, as she watches around more often. It could be just her lonely imagination that tries to paint an image of someone following her or it is a simple truth. One way or another, Julia is left alone to fight against her suspicion, fear, loneliness and an attack that may come from the stranger at any time.

Co-written and directed by Chloe Okuno, “Watcher” is a character-driven psychological thriller that leaves the audience alone with the concerned protagonist who must convince us that she is not crazy. Maika Monroe embodies Julia so well, we begin to trust her instinct even though there is not much proof around her disturbing feeling that is she being stalked. We do need more films like this because it is small, clever and engaging. Nothing much to complain about other than commend the work well done by the entire cast and crew, delivering a decent indie project that I hope will fill in our small and big screens more often.

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