While adjusting to life in a new country, a woman fears someone is following her. With a string of recent murders headlining the news, her paranoia intensifies while she fights against the doubts of others. Watcher is a mildly tense thriller that keeps its mystery just within reach. With some solid performances, it certainly makes for an enthralling watch.
After her husband Francis (Karl Glusman) receives a promotion, Julia (Maika Monroe) relocates with him to Romania—where his family is from originally. A former actress, she’s not sure what her next career step is in a foreign country, so she’s left to her own devices most of the day.
One night she notices someone looking in from across another building. It unnerves her slightly, but soon she feels someone is following her. With a a serial killer known as “The Spider” responsible for a string of unsolved murders in the area, her fears intensify. Especially as she grows more lonely with Francis’ hectic work schedule. As she tries to alert anyone of her growing discomfort, their dismissive nature only fuels her nightmare.
Directed by Chloe Okuno, and co-written with Zack Ford, Watcher is an intriguing film that while slightly predictable, has an engaging build-up with an alluring performance by Monroe. With an overall dreary tone, it offers a sense of unease that mimics the cold, isolated feeling our lead is experiencing.
While Watcher houses some tropes, it feels more purposeful the longer you sit with it, realizing it to be a subtle commentary on gaslighting or even a dash of “female hysteria”. There’s not a moment Julia isn’t within her rights to feel uneasy by her experiences, but the men around her can’t empathize with that fear the slightest.
When the film concluded, I did wish it could have dragged out its mystery a bit more—to avoid some obvious direction—but it doesn’t affect the story’s ability to culminate into one impactful, suspenseful final act.
Watcher hits theaters June 3, VOD on June 21, and debuts on SHUDDER on August 26