Watcher (CREDIT: IFC Midnight)

Starring: Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman, Burn Gorman

Director: Chloe Okuno

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Rating: R for A Bit of Blood and a Tease of Sex

Release Date: June 3, 2022 (Theaters)

First she was being followed, now she’s being watched! And come to think of it, that watching also involves plenty of following. Maika Monroe just can’t catch a break! In the past decade, she’s kind of established herself as a go-to scream queen for creepy flicks that prey on our most elemental fears. As It Follows demonstrated, it’s no fun to be stalked, and now as Watcher makes abundantly clear, voyeurism isn’t so hot either. It’s also extra unnerving when you’re feeling kind of lonely in a new country where you don’t speak the native language, which is what Monroe’s character Julia experiences. This is a simple fear, and Watcher keeps it simple through and through.

When Julia arrives in her husband Francis’ (Karl Glusman) native Romania, you can tell she’s a little anxious, but the picture doesn’t look so bad at first. The passion is certainly there, if a hot and heavy living room makeout session that plays like the Skinemax version of Rear Window is any indication. That romantic interlude is undercut a bit by the fact that there’s a bit of a Peeping Tom named Daniel (Burn Gorman) in the vicinity, although his peeks into his neighbors’ lives appear to be relatively innocent at first. But soon enough, he seems to be lurking in Julia’s path at the grocery store, movie theater, and pretty much anywhere else she’s hanging out.

With his sunken eyes, oily hair, and slenderman-esque skin tone, Gorman is pretty much the perfect guy to play the local creep. It’s almost like oil is oozing out of every pore of his body. I hope that’s not coming off too harsh, because I also think that Gorman is handsome in a “modest English gentleman” sort of way. But I suspect that he knows the offputting stereotype he can tap into, thus (I imagine) why he accepted this part. Perhaps Julia has similar conflicting feelings about Daniel. After she reports his ostensibly threatening behavior to the police, he calls them in turn to report her for pretty much the exact same thing. Is this all just one big misunderstanding? Is Julia going loopy from spending so much time at home alone and having her mind become permanently lost in translation?

We get a pretty straightforward answer to those questions in the explosive climax, which is quite viscerally thrilling. Although, it all escalates rather abruptly and then peaces out just as quickly, so you don’t get a whole lot of time to process the worst of it. I’m thus tempted to ding Watcher for being a little bottom-heavy. But I’m not ready to definitively do that, as I’m writing this review less than 24 hours after my viewing. Maybe one day, I’ll find myself cooped up in some strange new home just like Julia and wonder who’s watching me

Watcher is Recommended If You Like: It Follows, Rear Window, Lost in Translation, The thriller subgenre of women being told that they’re losing their minds

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Windows