Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Jay Lender, Micah Wright
Cast: David Alpay, Kris Lemche, Mia Faith
If you think you’ve seen everything there is to be seen from a found footage film, it might be wise to pump the breaks and look into They’re Watching. It’s an outlandish picture with a lot of heart, a lot of problems and – in the final act – a lot of blood and guts and pure lunacy.
The story sees a camera crew head for an Eastern European village where they plan to shoot a home improvement episode, as Becky Westlake has found a way to turn a complete dump into a beautiful little cottage. But once in foreign territory things don’t go quite as smooth as this crew would have preferred. They’re not too well informed of local culture, which results in them repeatedly insulting the locals. And not only do those locals find the Americans’ presence annoying, they’re willing to do what it takes to get them out of their hair for good. Interestingly enough, though, is the fact that the locals may be the very least of these youngsters’ worries.
That’s where we pull the plug on the plot details, as They’re Watching is loaded with a series of savage surprises just waiting to leave viewers reeling. And if you hang on through a couple of somewhat slow acts (that do successfully illustrate the on screen personalities), you’ll reach a stunning finale that is so astoundingly insane, violent and bloody you’ll be left with no choice but to struggle hauling your own jaw up from the floor. Seriously, the climax is just too electrifying to put into words; this one needs to be seen to be believed.
The greatest errors of the film are errors you’ll see in just about every found footage feature out there. These guys are clinging to their cameras like they’ve literally grown attached. I’m sorry, but if my health is in danger, the very last thing on my mind would be a damn camera. But, that’s just one of those things – it’s such a common misfire from these pictures that it’s hard to hold too much against directors Jay Lender and Micah Wright; they’re just following a pattern. Another issue I took with the film is the desire to insert a romantic element to the story. It feels entirely unnecessary in this instance, and while it isn’t wildly pronounced, we get that small subplot just the same and it doesn’t enhance the film or the character connection in any way. And the final and most glaring problem, for me, is the lack of common sense frequently exhibited by the focal players. What’s interesting, and why this problem stands out for me above and beyond the other problems, is that most of the characters in the flick come across as intelligent individuals. It’s hard to swallow the idea that an informed, experienced and reasonable person would embark on a journey, doing something they’ve done time and again, and begin making dreadful decisions the moment they step on foreign soil. I just can’t see beyond that.
They’re Watching has a lot of cons working against the pros. That just cannot be denied. However, the picture isn’t too slow, or boring, and the climax truly is a shocking event. And when I say ‘event’ I mean it – the entire film builds to the closing 15 minutes, and every trick that hasn’t yet been pulled from the black hat are freed in a flurry of violence and craziness. Those final 15 minutes most definitely justify looking into the film. It’s better to see a found footage film that plays to the expected clichés for 80-percent of the feature before opening the gates of Hell for the final 20-percent than another drab affair that functions in one single gear from point a to point z.