Watcher, The Film Details
Director: Ryan Rothmaier
Writer: Ryan Rothmaier
Release Date: April 18th, 2017
Release Format: DVD
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Running Time: 1h 29min
Unaware of its terrible history, a young couple purchases their dream home. But it soon becomes clear that they may not be alone in the house… and that someone — or something — is determined to drive them out.
In and/or around 2016 The watcher captured national headlines. This wasn’t a press coverage for Ryan Rothmaier’s upcoming film. On the contrary, this macabre story centered on a series of events that befell a New Jersey family. According to news reports, the eerie event began after Derek and Maria Broaddus purchased a home in Westfield, N.J.
Soon thereafter the couple began receiving disturbing letters. The author to each cryptic correspondence was someone calling themselves The Watcher. The frequency of the letter grew with intensity, each was intimate with threats. The Broaddus family concerned for their safety turned to federal and local authorities. Although there were no suspects an investigation deduced the writer to be elderly. It is said that the correspondence originated from a woman based on DNA evidence.
In the end, The Broaddus family filed a lawsuit against the previous owners John and Andrea Wood. The claim states that The Woods had prior knowledge of the situation and failed to disclose.
The Watcher case remains to this day a mystery. Many have established theories on the event. Yet, the only merits are that the case serves well for the basis of a Horror film.
The Watcher is set to release on the 18th of April 2017. To be truthful the initial thought of this film leaned toward a lackluster production. Many Horror films that take a base on true events tend to exaggerate scripts and balloon actual circumstances. This makes can either make or break a film. With the track record in recent years leaning towards poor productions. There was reserved doubt and after hitting the play button all question soon faded away.
The Watcher does not take long to establish mood and intimacy. The opening frame provides an adequate foundation for the film to build on. The success within the first minutes to Act I becomes ripe with the right atmospheric chemistry. The scene arrests interest and continues to play with the audience thereafter.
The lack of lighting played well by providing adequate creepiness factor. Cinematographer Pedro Luque contributes to The Watcher with what he does best. Luque is notable for establishing moody sequences, especially with interior shots. His composition is almost recognizable and parallels Fede Alvarez’s 2016 feature. Astute viewers will recognize parallels. For example, both films use low-lit conditions as a morbid extension of the antagonist
First off, the casting for The Watcher was commendable. Finally, a Horror film that does not place Caucasians as central characters/helpless victims! It was exciting to see a production featuring African Americans in prominent roles. This is not a play of the race card by any means. The observation centers on the lack placing majorities in strong lead roles. Horror films evolved over the decades yet the genre continues to use typical Caucasians archetypes.
The acting had refinement and the characters established good chemistry. There was the occasional flop in emotional execution. Yet, for the most part, the cast delivered well on tension.
Rothmaier used true life events to construct a compelling film. The circumstances were low key and didn’t rely on unnecessary visuals. The Watcher steers away from CGI or gore and channels focus on the story. The mood had an eerie vibe making the film a non-generic haunting tale.
The plot began begins strongly yet as the film progresses the story falls to pieces. Rothmaier could have done a better job in keep the essence of the film alive after act I. Logic eased out of the picture and becomes replaced by ludicrous scenarios. These faults begin to develop in Act II and continue well into the closing Act. The climatic set-up wasn’t much of a surprise. All evidence starts to point to the obvious. Yet, Rothmaier felt necessary to toy with the viewer’s intelligence. Scenarios become so obvious to the viewer that the final reveal seems more as a cheap gag.
The costume design for the antagonist was lackluster and felt contrived. In fact, the concept resembles the creature in Lawrie Brewster’s upcoming Horror film. A person donning a Raven costume terrorizing a family seems cliché. In one particular B-roll footage, there was a shot of a neighborhood watch notice. How could such a big costume go unnoticed? The costume design doesn’t fit with the aesthetic of the film.
The Watcher shines with the cast and professional quality acting. The story borrows and reinvents true life accounts with good execution. Both camera work and cinematography are defining. Yet, the film struggles with the narrative and the antagonist’s costume design. Both factors cripple the production thus eliminating the seriousness to this Thriller. Viewers will guess outcomes with ease and this is not the intent.
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