Watcher (2022) | Discussion, Recommendations & Spoilers | Film Review
Watcher (2022) is an American psychological-thriller film written and directed by Chloe Okuno. The film is based on an original screenplay, which was written by Zack Ford. The film stars Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman, Burn Gorman, Madalina Anea, and Daniel Nuta. Watcher (2022) was released on June 3, 2022 in the United States and distributed by several companies which include: IFC Midnight, Shudder, Focus Features and Universal Pictures.
As the film begins, we are introduced to Julia (Maika Monroe), an American woman who is married to her Romanian husband, Francis (Karl Glusman). We learn that Julia has agreed to move to Bucharest, Romania with Francis because Francis was offered a job there and had always wanted to go back to his home country. Julia, on the other hand, is open to exploring Bucharest, but finds it difficult to navigate and make friends easily, as she does not speak Romanian.
Julia is teaching herself basic Romanian in order to acclimate to her new environment, but finds herself missing the ease and familiarity she had in New York while her husband is at work and she is alone. We soon discover though, that Julia is not alone at all. She seems to have a creepy neighbor (Burn Gorman) who lives across the street. Julia notices him quite quickly one night after moving into the apartment her husband set up for them.
This guy...well, he likes to stand in front of his window and stare, seemingly at Julia. Julia, understandably worried and anxious, tells Francis of her worries and even though Francis seems to take Julia's fears seriously, he ultimately dismisses them and tells her not to worry so much, causing Julia to feel even more alone.
One morning, Julia is watching the news and sees a story that she can't quite understand. She asks Francis what the reporter said and even though Francis looks perturbed, he tells her that the story was about women found murdered. Julia also learns that the police are looking for a serial killer they have dubbed "The Spider", causing Julia to wonder if it's her creepy neighbor committing the murders. Sometime later, her husband invites some work colleagues to their apartment for dinner and they start talking about the news story from earlier and inadvertently tell Julia that the serial killer has been decapitating women and has not yet been caught.
One day, Julia goes out to see a movie. While she is watching the film, someone comes into the theater and sits right behind her, causing Julia to become anxious enough that she flees the theater in a panic. I mean...the guy came into the theater halfway though the movie and sits behind her...it's weird. Is it the same guy as her creepy neighbor? Is this even happening? We start to question Julia's perception as the film continues due to Julia having no witnesses to what is happening to her. The rest of the film follows Julia as she tries to solve the mystery of who her neighbor is, if he is really stalking her and if he is even real.
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* Discussion contains spoilers
After Julia flees the theater, she make her way to a nearby grocery store, where she nearly buys a pack of cigarettes. She ultimately chooses not to, as she had made a huge effort to quit months ago and was successful. Instead, Julia grabs a basket and heads into the store to pick up some fruit. As she is shopping, she looks up and notices the same man from the movie theater enter the market. He turns to look at her and Julia panics and tries to find an exit in the back of the store.
After knocking over a jar of pickles like an oaf, Julia tries to hide from the mysterious man by going through doors to the back part of the store, where an employee confronts her. Julia, seeing the man who has possibly been following her at the back of the store, asks the employee where the exit is and runs out of the store.
After Julia returns home, she tells Francis what happened. Concerned, Francis asks Julia if she wants to go to the store to review the footage of what happened to her. They asks the same employee who helped Julia flee, but the employee tells Francis that he thought Julia was trying to shoplift, not get away. Julia explains what really happened to the employee and asks to see the video.
As they watch, I wasn't sure we'd even see a man following her around, but sure enough, he shows up in the video. Unfortunately, Francis, who I was finding to be increasingly annoying and very much into gaslighting his wife, tells Julia that the man might not have been following her and it might not be the neighbor. Okay Francis, keep it up, I, the great all-seeing Oracle, see a divorce in your future if you don't straighten up and fly right. Look, even if you think your spouse might've lost their marbles, you help them find them with compassion and kindness, not kick some more you just found under the couch to become friends with the crumbs and loose buttons.
Later, Julia meets her next-door neighbor Irina (Madalina Anea), who she discovers speaks English and is friendly towards her. Irina asks Julia if she wants to come over to have a drink and Julia agrees, grateful for someone to be nice to her and for a chance to relax. As they are talking and drinking, they hear a loud knock at Irina's door. Irina tells Julia it is her ex-boyfriend who won't leave her alone, but is ultimately not a threat. However, Irina tells Julia that she keeps a gun in her coffee table just in case she needs it. Hmm...methinks this gun will come into play later, but who knows, you know? Could be a coincidence. Probably. Maybe. It's not like I just watched it or anything.
Julia leaves Irina's apartment, returns to her own and sees the man staring at her again. Frustrated, she starts to doubt herself and waves at him to see if he notices her. He almost immediately waves back, letting Julia know he is staring at her and she isn't imagining things. When Francis returns home from work, she tells him she wants to call the police. When the officer arrives, Julia tells him that she believes the neighbor has been stalking her and the officer tells her he will find the man and tell him to leave her alone. Francis tells Julia he will go with the officer to see if it's the same man from the grocery store.
Francis returns some time later and tells Julia he isn't sure it was the same man, gaslighting the hell out of Julia. At this point, I wasn't sure if he had seen a completely different person, if there wasn't anyone at the other apartment, if he had seen the same guy and didn't want to freak her out, or if he was a negligent asshole who didn't want to deal with his wife's anxiety and fear.
For the record, I choose the last option, wholeheartedly. I mean, if my spouse was going through the same things Julia was, I would believe him because I know he's not a liar. I would also work on moving to a new apartment because obviously if someone was stalking him, I'd want him to be safe and ultimately feel safe in his own home.
In my humble opinion, Francis is a contender for shithole husband of the year, and he's definitely going to win the top award at this rate. He leaves Julia at home all day and all night, invites people over who can speak English, but choose not to, effectively shutting Julia out, doesn't believe her about anything and doesn't make her safety a priority. I mean, what are the positive things about this guy?
Anyway, the next day Julia sees the creepy neighbor while she's out and about and decides to follow him. She follows him to an underground strip club and discovers he's a janitor preparing to do the mop bop. Bopping around with a mop at a dirty underground strip club, that's my idea of a fun time. The creepy neighbor and I have that in common. Plus, I like to stare out of windows and flip squirrels off. I'm telling you, the creepy neighbor and I would be best friends.
While she is busy being creeped out by the neighbor who dresses suspiciously similar to Mr. Rogers, a woman leans down and says, "Julia?" Julia jumps in surprise to see Irina dancing in a weird plexiglass box with an ill-fitting wig. She tells Irina she followed the weird psycho Mr. Rogers to the strip club and asks Irina who he is, to which Irina shrugs and tells Julia all kinds of people work at strip clubs, but they are primarily transient, which is pretty normal for custodial work. Umm...but, really, who makes a career out of being a janitor? Is it unionized? I ask the hard-hitting questions here ma'am.
Later, Julia returns to the apartment and hears a scream from Irina's apartment. Worried, she goes to knock on Irina's door, but Irina doesn't answer. The neighbors come out of their apartments, trying to find out what the trouble is and Julia tells the landlord she heard Irina scream and wants to see if she is ok. The landlady, familiar with Francis' expert gaslighting techniques, gives Julia shit about opening the apartment, but does so anyway.
In the apartment, Julia and the landlord find a lamp knocked over and cat next the lamp. We learn that another neighbor had a cat named Elvis (nice name choice, lady) go missing. But why is Elvis in Irina's apartment? Is Irina a crazy cat thief? Is Elvis an expert at lockpicking? Something is fishy and it's not Elvis' salmon Meow Mix. The landlord is satisfied that Irina isn't in the apartment, thinks Elvis made the (weird screaming) noise and that Julia is bonkers. Case closed. Except it's not, landlord!
There perhaps, maybe, might be, allegedly, a psycho Mr. Rogers roaming the neighborhood, doing the mop bop at underground dirty ass strip clubs, following people to movie theaters and grocery stores and possibly removing people's stuck-on heads from their necks. He must be stopped! If he's real though, we don't know what's really going on (wink wink).
Julia, frightened, but determined to find out what is going on, hears knocking on Irina's door some time later. She goes out to investigate and meets Irina's ex-boyfriend, Cristian (Daniel Nuta) who has an impressive man-bun situation going on. Julia tells Cristian she hasn't seen Irina and is worried about her and Cristian tells her Irina won't answer his calls. Julia gets Irina's number from Cristian and tries to call Irina herself, but they become alarmed when they hear her phone ringing inside her apartment. Julia, thinking the creepy neighbor has something to do with Irina's disappearance, asks Cristian if he will knock on the neighbor's door to see if it's the same psycho Mr. Rogers she's seen around town.
Cristian, who apparently has an epic man-bun death wish, agrees and goes with Julia to knock on the door. After several unsuccessful pounds on the door, Cristian yells a Romanian warning to Mr. Rogers, letting him know his weird window routine and stalking better stop or he's taking away his shoes, cardigans and his finger puppets. He'll take your mop away, too. He's serious, yo. As serious as a man with an epic man-bun and leather jacket can be, that is.
Cristian leaves, telling Julia he has to see a friend to style his man-bun and Julia starts to follow, then pauses. I was like, don't you knock on that door, Julia. Not without something that packs a punch, like a Desert Eagle or maybe an RPG. Certainly she's not going to confront a psycho with her thin frame, possibly weak arms and fists that contain the frightening power of cotton balls. She does it anyway and to her surprise, an old man answers. She backs away and heads to the decrepit, creepy elevator with two mirrors facing each other (great, it's a portal to hell. people! Right in her local elevator!). Before she gets in the elevator, she sees the creep on the stairs and freaks out, getting into the elevator and heading back to her apartment.
Later, the police knock on the door and Francis and Julia answer, surprised to see the officer they spoke with before in the company of psycho Mr. Rogers. It turns out, the creep made a police report against Julia, saying she was stalking him and he'd like it to stop. The officer suggests it's all a misunderstanding (sure, Jan) and they should shake hands and let it go. Julia obviously doesn't think it's a misunderstanding and shakes the creep's hand, but the creep holds on a little too long and we are again unnerved by the presence of psycho Mr. Rogers.
Some time later, Francis invites Julia to a work party, where he again only speaks in Romanian to his coworkers and everyone excludes Julia. Julia, having learned some Romanian, works out what Francis is saying to his coworkers, realizes he has been making fun of her the entire time to them. The f-ing audacity of this guy, for real. Julia has finally had enough of Francis and his gaslighting routine and leaves the party.
She waits out front for a taxi (and presumably Francis), but neither show up, so she takes the subway to the bowels of hell. It's so dark and creepy and we see someone is following her. She gets on the train and soon sees the creep in the next car, being a creep. Only this time he has a shopping bag with him that looks like it has a motherf-ing head in it. Is it a head? Is it a couple cucumbers, tomatoes and a cantaloupe? The train stalls and the man gets up to sit across from Julia.
He tells Julia the train sometimes stops because there's an animal on the tracks and tells Julia it shouldn't be long. He tells Julia why he was watching her, telling her he often looked outside because he was lonely and bored and didn't think anyone noticed. When Julia looked at him and waved, he waved back because he wanted to wave at a pretty girl who was waving at him.
This all sounds normal, but something is hinky. It's just a feeling, nothing concrete, but the guy is ominous. We don't know if this guy is being honest or what is really in his bag (looks like a head to me) and Julia doesn't know for sure, but she's not taking any chances, so as soon as the train stops, Julia bolts.
Back at home, Julia suddenly hears music coming from Irina's apartment. She goes to the apartment without a machete or a S.W.A.T. team (mistake) and looks for Irina. Of course, creepy Mr. Rogers has set up a surprise guest for Julia, it's none other than a decapitated Irina! (pretty sure it's Irina anyway, it's hard to tell without a head.) I wonder where he stuffed her? In a closet? Under the bed? Julia didn't get to check Irina's apartment very well due to the asshole landlord's gaslighting, so Irina could've been anywhere, really.
Creepy neighbor guy attacks Julia and she tries to get away. Meanwhile, asshole Francis returns home and looks for Julia. Julia hears Francis calling her phone and calls for help, causing psycho Mr. Rogers to cut her throat. It's pretty bloody and Julia crawls away weakly, seemingly to try to get the aforementioned gun in Irina's coffee table. However, she slumps over and stops moving before she can get to it. Satisfied he has killed Julia and gotten away with more murders, psycho Mr. Rogers leaves the apartment, only to see Francis in the hallway.
Francis, being Francis, makes me question if he'll just shrug and leave to get drinks with his fellow asshole friends, looks shocked instead. As the creep decides what to do, he gets shot by Julia, who it turns out only pretended to die (nice move, Julia!) in order to trick psycho Mr. Rogers. She kills the creep and stands in Irina's doorway, giving Francis the stank eye. I think the stank eye says, "Thanks for not believing me, we're getting a divorce and I'm going back to New York, Asshole of the Century." I mean, once your husband puts you in enough danger to nearly get you killed, I think a divorce is in order.
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