Watcher (2022) – Movie Review

vigilant2022.

Written and directed by Chloe Okuno.
Starring Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman, Burn Gorman, Tudor Petruț, Gabriela Butuc, Madalina Anea, Cristina Deleanu, Daniel Nuta, Ioana Abur, Flaviu Crisan and Florian Ghimpu.

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SYNOPSIS:

As panic brews across the city over a possible serial killer on the loose, Julia, a young actress who has just moved to town with her husband, notices a mysterious stranger watching her from across the street. .

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Maika Monroe is always great at expressing anxiety and paranoia in the stalking subgenre (whether it’s something supernatural in one of the best horror movies of the 2010s, Followor even campy schlock like Greta), so she served as the host of director Chloe Okuno’s (who appears to have reworked a Zack Ford script) directorial debut (with a few credits to her name, including V/H/S/94 storm drain segment) vigilant is an obvious casting choice.

The film shows Julia (Monroe) accompanying her husband, marketing businessman Francis (Karl Glusman), to Bucharest, setting up a luxurious apartment. Immediately, viewers are immersed in Julia’s foreign perspective, without subtitles, unable to understand the Romanian dialogue. Things also get unsettling when Benjamin Kirk Nielsen’s cinematography voyeuristically zooms out as Julia and Francis make love for the first time in their new home. The next day, Francis heads to work, leaving Julia alone to study the Romanian language and try basic things like ordering coffee at a local shop. He also makes some friends, including the bilingual Irina (Madalina Anea), while hanging out with other neighbors and residents.

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Julia also notices a figure watching her from the adjacent apartment building. Rightly shocked, especially given recent news reports of a serial killer murdering young women, she feels suffocated and like a potential target. She also feels validated by meeting a strange man (played creepily by Burn Gorman) too often to be chalked up to coincidence. Even if he’s not the killer, there’s undoubtedly something wrong with this silent and seemingly empty man (and it’s hard not to feel like the movie ends just as she’s becoming scheming to explore his motives). The scenes between Maika Monroe and Burn Gorman would be almost unbearably tense to watch based on her performance alone, but the camera’s proximity to Julia adds to that sense of claustrophobia and imminent doom. She feels that anxiety attack with Julia.

Francis disagrees with the situation. He is willing to consider Julia’s uncomfortable feelings, but does not treat her experiences as legitimate signs of danger. He becomes increasingly agitated and begins to take advantage of her language barrier to make fun of her in front of her co-workers. As a result, Irina is the faithful and supportive partner here, posing a controversial but reasonable question regarding bullying and whether or not it’s worth vindicating as correct. Regardless of the answer, Irina believes Julia. And because of Irina’s work as a dancer in an underground club, tuned to be seen with her eyes, she gives Julia a shred of courage to overcome this oppression and face these fears.

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vigilant it is without a doubt a film about reward, as captivating and magnificently crafted as the film is. The script wants to say something about the consequences of men not listening to women or not taking their concerns seriously, with an ending that will hammer that home mercilessly. However, for such a pleasingly grounded and terrifying character study, the final moments of vigilant develop cold feet and bend your back on your message (which hurts doubly so when coming out of some unsavory and disturbing mirror images that could be read multiple ways), preferring a crowd-pleasing ending. Doesn’t seem like the right choice for this particular story, but vigilant worth looking at.

Flashing Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the reviews editor for Flickering Myth. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]

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