THE WATCHER *** USA 2016 Dir: Ryan Rothmaier. 89 mins
Young, ambitious couple (Erin Cahill, Edi Gathegi) move into a West Coast L.A. fixer-upper following a personal tragedy. They are immediately beset by horror movie omens that include an overly cheery and wacky estate agent, portentous ravens, an eccentric neighbour (Denise Crosby) with a perceptive, mentally disabled son, dead animal deliveries and a series of cryptic warning letters that ominously croak “The sickness will come…”
Although the central antagonist is a tad ludicrous, this is a well-crafted, well-acted chiller that starts out as an effectively creepy Bad House film before a transition into stalker territory. It employs fleeting tropes of the found footage sub-genre (CCTV footage) and enjoyably announces Denise Crosby’s late-career entry into slightly campy / sinister horror matriarch roles (after being a bland young mom in PET SEMATARY all those years ago). It also pays off with a fashionable twist-o-rama finale that ends things on a satisfyingly mean-spirited, sour note. We might question the “Based on actual events” tag at the start, however.
Review by Steven West