October 27, 2016 They’re Watching (Movie Review)
Television, these days, if full of home renovation shows, including those who fix up old houses. Released on March 25, 2016 via indie distribution company Amplify, Horror Comedy They’re Watching uses Found Footage adding a twist the average homeowner would not see coming. Written and directed by Jay Lender (SpongeBob SquarePants series, Phineas and Ferb series) and Micah Wright (Wonderful Days 2003, The Angry Beavers series), the events of the film take place in Bucharest, Romania.
A few years ago, an American home improvement reality show comprising of film crew Greg Abernathy (David Alpay: The Tudors TV series, The Vampire Diaries TV series), Alex Torini (Kris Lemche: Ginger Snaps 2000, Final Destination 3 2006), Kate Banks (Carrie Genzel: Watchmen 2009, Jennifer’s Body 2009) and intern Sarah (Mia Faith: Workaholics TV series, The Mentalist TV series) revisit former contestant Becky (Brigid Brannagh: Angel TV series, Army Wives TV series) and her partner Vladimir Filat (Dimitri Diatchenko: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2008, Chernobyl Diaries 2012). When they last left, Becky and Vladimir had been convinced to buy a local property out of town by a Real Estate Agent and President of Moldavia (Adrian Anghel: California Dreamin’ 2007, Transylmania 2009). Given the dilapidated state of the home, the film crew expect it will remain in a similar state upon their return.
Kate is due to arrive later, however, when Greg, Alex, and Sarah arrive at Becky’s place, she has completed an amazing transformation, the stuff of TV Exec’s dreams. They are excited to start filming, but in their off time, Greg, Alex, and Sarah check out the nearby town. Initially everyone is friendly and welcoming, but when they happen to enter into a funeral uninvited, they cause a raucous and are thrown out. When Kate arrives, she is less than pleased with the trio’s activities and quickly starts ordering them around. Kate does not like Sarah from the beginning and makes her life hell when she is around.
Despite Kate’s demanding and nasty demeanour, Sarah, Greg, and Alex continue filming and interviewing Becky. During the course of their work, they stumble across a few unusual antiquated symbols, paintings, and other artwork that Becky explains are linked to a local witch. This intrigues the group, but they dismiss it. One evening, Sarah, Greg, Alex, and the President drink at a local bar. Once again, one of them accidentally says something offensive and are thrown out.
They arrive back at Becky’s place and, during the course of a few hours, their van is rendered un-drivable and they are stuck there. This becomes a big problem when the locals arrive at Becky’s in a trance-like state and turn her property into a cult meeting place. None of them are prepared for what happens next, nor fighting for their lives instead of filming a reality show and hating Kate. The entire trip takes a horrific turn and people are not who they seem.
They’re Watching is a long, long way from SpongeBob Squarepants and video games. It is packed full of quirky one-liners, witty repartee, and some killer action combined with special effects. From the beginning, the viewer is unsure what to expect and where the story is going. The fact the characters are taken into another country adds another dimension to the well-used Found Footage genre. The intro sets up nicely for the amped up second act, which throws a few curve balls into the mix. Each character is well developed, and each scene pushes the plot forwards.
As a while, the film is handled expertly, and the viewer would be forgiven for thinking the writers were more experienced in the Horror genre than they are. Lender and Wright have nailed their contribution in They’re Watching; a real pleasure and a unique story worth watching many times. CrypticRock gives They’re Watching 5 out of 5 stars.