There isn’t much to see in ‘Watcher’

Watcher (2022) - Filmaffinity

Watcher (2022)

Directed by Chloe Okuno

In “Watcher,” the latest from director Chloe Okuno (“V/H/S/94”), scream queen Maika Monroe stars as Julia, a former actress who’s in between work. When she moves with her husband (Karl Glusman) to Romania for his job, Julia mostly lounges around their expensive loft and looks out the window. But then, one night, she spots someone looking back at her. The next day, she thinks she sees her watcher (Burn Gorman) stalking her in the city. Is this the same man who’s been killing women all over Bucharest? Her husband thinks she’s just being paranoid, and the police tell her they can’t do anything about it until there’s a pattern of stalking.

I’ve had this thought a few times since watching Alex Garland’s “Men” a couple of months ago, but “Watcher” is yet another movie to take the idea of “being a woman is horrifying enough on its own” and make a better horror movie from it than Garland did. In “Watcher,” men can begin to understand how horrifying it is to be a woman when you fear for your safety and nobody believes you. Worse yet, being a woman in a country where you don’t know the language. Julia’s husband translates when they’re together, but his marketing project frequently keeps him in the office until late at night. Julia is alone with her fears, rational or not. The movie keeps the Romanian untranslated, which helps us (those of us who don’t know Romanian, at least) feel just as helpless as Julia.

But from this promising idea, “Watcher” builds a slow and predictable movie. I know it’s the formula, but I’ve grown tired of having to wait an hour into a 90-minute horror-thriller to see anything even faintly exciting happen. For the first two-thirds, “Watcher” doesn’t so much build suspense as merely test your patience. Suspense requires a sense that you don’t know what could happen next. But in “Watcher,” there’s not much misdirection. What you see is what you get.


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