Horror complimented by a bit of thriller—this combination of movie genres encapsulates what The Watcher is all about, and it’s hard to go wrong with.
Emma (Erin Cahill) and Noah (Edi Gathegi) are a young couple from the east coast moving to the west in their search for a fresh start.
The hopeful couple buy what seems to be the house of their dreams at a comfortable price. The Los Angeles neighborhood is developed, but it also holds warning signs for danger to come.
Emma and Noah are unaware of the house’s unnerving history. There was a death from a long lasting illness, but the details of the case were not specified.
During the first night in their new home, Emma hears knocking coming from downstairs. Curiosity gets the best of her when she makes her way downstairs and into their living room. She finds the front door unlocked and cracked open.
Assuming nothing is out of the ordinary, she pushes the door shut to make her way back upstairs. A repetitive, loud banging is coming from their inner walls and Emma becomes too terrified to respond or move.
Noah hears the loud noises as well and comes downstairs to investigate. He grabs his broomstick from the living room and walks out onto their front porch. A red X is painted next to their door with a peculiar small black envelope attached to the center, with the words “Read Me” written on the front.
They bring the mysterious, creepy letter inside to read. It warns them about living in their new house because someone else is watching them, urging the two to leave immediately, signed by the Raven. Chalking the whole occurrence up to a group of rambunctious teenage kids, the letter is thrown away.
This is the couple’s first encounter with the Raven and it isn’t their last.
The Watcher has quite a bit going for it in the opening sequences of the film, but the energy dies out about halfway through.
From the start, the film clips along at a steady, flowing pace that doesn’t leave too much ambiguity to the viewer about what’s happening.
One of my favorite scenes is the house showing scene where the couple receive a tour from a real estate agent before moving in. The quirky real estate agent has just as many one liners as any single 50-year-old woman might have and she serves as an early juvenile comic relief. Before leaving, she says, “If you need anything, just text or holler and I’ll slip my blades on and skate right over.”
Most horror movies project their characters as being rash and self-harming, unable to make logical decisions when danger arises. Even though Emma and Noah aren’t psychic, they still take safety precautionary measures via setting up home surveillance, contacting the police, and even reaching out to their friendly neighbors for advice. This takes away the frustration of watching characters walk straight into their doom.
The letdown comes when scenes jump from one to another without properly explaining how that’s possible. It leaves the viewer feeling like they missed something, but really this is just an ineffective tactic from the creators to build confusion and anxiety.
Despite the occasional choppy filming experience, horror fans will appreciate The Watcher for what it does. The movie fits the stereotypical cliches with little twists to make it its own.