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Maika Monroe appears in <i>Watcher</i> by Chloe Okuno, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Movie Reviews

[Sundance ’22] ‘Watcher’ review: Thriller filled with gorgeous shots and a lots of tension

Incredibly tense

Watcher is a thriller that highlights how frightening real life terror can be. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, the movie is about a woman named Julia (Maika Monroe) that has moved to Romania with her fiancé (Karl Glusman). Soon after arriving, she gets the feeling someone is watching her. At the same time, a killer known as “The Spider” is killing women. Are the two connected?

The film is filled with beautiful shots. What stands out about Watcher is how director Chloe Okuno concentrates on interior shots. A new apartment, a fancy dinner party, and even the inside of a subway train look gorgeous. Though, there is a constant sense of dread throughout the film, it follows a standard formula. Still, Watcher is able to remain engaging. Many scenes have an almost voyeuristic quality. It is almost as if the audience is seeing something they should not. 

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Monroe is great as the beleaguered Julia. More than just being scared or paranoid, she is also frustrated and angry. She is fighting to stay in control of her life the entire time and is someone audiences will be able to get behind. She also brings a realism to the part that makes the entire film that much more frightening. Unfortunately, not as much care is given to the others in Watcher. 

Things move at a steady pace until the final act. At this point, the movie gets too clever for its own good. Watcher has some revelations that work to varying degrees. Plot threads that have been in the background suddenly come back with shocking gravitas. It looks like it is going to end on another beautiful shot. Regrettably, this well shot – albeit, depressing – ending is just the set up for an unwelcome twist that is more ridiculous than anything else.

The Sundance Film Festival is online January 20- January 30. Tickets can be purchased and a full lineup can be found here.

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