WATCH LIST ***** Philippines/USA/Canada 2019 Dir: Ben Rekhi. 94 mins
Set in recent times in the Philippines the WATCH LIST follows Maria Ramon (Alessandra de Rossi) and her husband Turo. As recovering addicts they are forced to “surrender” to the police under the new laws set out by President Rodrigo Duterte and enter into a recovery programme if they are using or not, whilst having their names added to the list permanently. Doing everything right by the government and for their 3 children does not help though as Turo is still shot and killed on the street by 2 masked assailants on a motorcycle. After his murder it was alleged that Turo was still a drug pusher and Maria, in a bid to clear his name and help her family strikes a deal with the police working for them to help clear the streets of other drug dealers. She soon gets in over her head and becomes someone she despises but can she get out of it before it’s too late??!
Right from the start WATCH LIST is incredibly engaging and very powerful. It really captures the struggles and awful situations the poor folk of that region unwittingly get themselves into and the extent of the greed and corruption that has befallen the police force. The cast of mostly uncredited or young actors are fantastic and the characters are strong, emotional, affable and sympathetic when they need to be. De Rossi does one hell of a job as Maria and has some truly heart breaking scenes. It is wonderfully shot with a closeness to the camera work that sits you right in the middle of what’s going on. It has a sparse but effective soundtrack featuring all sorts from street Hip Hop to humourous Pop music and uses its incidentals so incredibly well. It is not strictly horror, classed more as a Crime/Thriller movie but it certainly belongs in the horror genre due to the nature of its harrowing storyline.
WATCH LIST is a truly rare gem that really needs to be on every bodies watch list! Sorry had to be done… don’t hate me!
Review by Sarah Budd