GORE IN THE STORE
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans
Directed by Chloe Okuno.
Starring Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman, Burn Gorman.
Thriller, US, 91minutes, certificate 15.
Released in cinemas in the UK 4th November by Universal
Following her memorable work on last years V/H/S ‘94 with the “Storm Drain” segment, “Hail Ratma!”, director Chloe Okuno returns with a grounded thriller that plays out in a far more sinister manner thanks to its grounded realism and clinical look at the tropes of the woman in peril genre. The film also serves as a comeback of sorts for Maika Monroe, an actress who made such an impression on the genre with the double whammy of IT FOLLOWS and THE GUEST, an introductory double bill that cemented her standing as a cult figure with Final Girl credentials which made her seeming disappearance from screens since then all the more puzzling. Her work here along with Okuno’s makes WATCHER an always interesting film but one that does not quite grip the viewer in the expected way.
Monroe plays Julia, a young woman relocated to Bucharest with her husband Francis for his job. Although Francis fits right into his new home and job, Julia struggles to settle in. Struggling with the language she is a stranger in a strange land, already ill at ease with her surroundings, not least her new spacious apartment home with large, uncovered windows that offer a full view of her and her life to any neighbours in the large apartment block directly opposite her. Which is precisely what’s happening when she spies a lone shadowy figure staring right at her night after night. Julia’s paranoia increases when she walks past a crime scene close to home, where a woman has been horrifically murdered by a serial killer who has been named The Spider.
Julia’s isolation and paranoia feed into each other creating an emotional feedback loop that Okuna and Monroe cleverly play upon throughout the narrative. The fear and anger that Julia experiences has the audience onside with her as she struggles with convincing Francis and the police, who seem more bemused than engaged by her predicament. “Maybe he’s staring at the woman who’s staring at him” Francis explains in a scene that both feels coldly rational and yet enraging at the same time with his offhand manner and casual disbelief at his wife’s situation. It is a scene effective in the bluntness with which the problems of women are brushed aside as exaggerated and/or hysterical.
It is a subject that is nimbly explored throughout the film. Although the story and plot are slim with a pared back narrative that often fails to engage on a more visceral level there is just enough here to keep the viewer engaged. But maybe that last remark should come with a caveat marking out this male writer just as guilty as those in the film who are all too eager to brush off the threat that Julia faces. Okuno’s script, which is listed in the credits as based on another by Zack Ford, is elevated by her smart direction which highlights Julia’s lonely character in a perpetually chilly and sometimes vast landscape. Okuno manages to get the blood pumping however with a final sequence that is dark and brutal that pays off everything that has come before in spades with a final shot that skewers the viewpoints mentioned above perfectly.
Monroe also impresses here with her performance of a figure caught in a horrifying situation knowing that her gender and emotions mark her out unfairly in the eyes of those who are all too ready to dismiss her problems and those who are ready to pounce upon them for their own predatory end. Her smart handling of the character here makes this a very welcome comeback for one of the more interesting performers in the genre who knows exactly how to play in it and with it on a number of levels.
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans