Dir. Chloe Okuno | USA | 2022 | 91 mins
Ex-actress Julia (Maika Monroe) moves from New York to Bucharest when her husband Francis (Karl Glusman) receives a major promotion at work. Unlike Francis, Julia doesn’t speak the language, and with little to fill her days (other than learning how to order a coffee in Romanian), feelings of loneliness and isolation quickly set in. One night, as Julia aimlessly wanders around the new apartment, she notices a silhouette watching her from the apartment building across the street. Soon afterwards, she becomes aware of a strange man who seems to appear wherever she goes. Unsettled by his constant presence, and anxious following recent criminal activity in the city (a potential serial killer is on the loose, targeting women her age), Julia seeks help from Francis and the local authorities, but is met with doubtful and even accusatory reactions. Increasingly desperate and fearful for her safety, Julia sets out to confront the stranger, but an important question arises from her actions: who is the watcher, and who is being watched?
Chloe Okuno's WATCHER is an atmospheric and moody slow burn experience laden with dread; a meticulous Hitchcockian thriller which explores the ways that women are ignored when they speak about a man being dangerous. Via striking central performance from Monroe, we experience Julia’s growing unease, disorientation (the film does not use subtitles), and uniquely female paranoia, while the voyeuristic cinematography heightens our suspense and discomfort. The horror that stems from Julia’s experience resounds with a disquieting pertinence, which brings emotional weight and depth to this highly accomplished feature debut.
Screening with THE MICROSCOPE + VOID