They're Watching
Found footage films have become a rancid joke amongst film goers. While the Blair Witch Project popularized the genre - especially with horror/sci-fi filmmakers - modern day series such as Paranormal Activity and V/H/S have brought the genre down the drain. Not saying that at least the first entries in those series had good moments, but the rest were amateur at best. Micah Wright and Jay Lender both understood this, and therefore decided to give their all to a new style of found footage film with their directorial debut feature film, They're Watching

Nauseous shaky cams and pointless lead character wandering around empty environments that lead to jump scares are gone, which led the two directors to argue that their movie is less of a found footage film and is more of a first person thriller route. I have to agree with that as their characters in the film are professional filmmakers themselves, which means they know how to handle a camera and boom stick and the like. So, annoying angles and the like are gone, and refreshing, steady sights are here to stay. 

The movie follows a group of filmmakers shooting for a show called House Hunters Global, where they head to a remote Eastern European village called Moldova. Rumors of witch burnings as well as superstitious floats the town, but that doesn't stop eager house hunter Becky Westlake from purchasing and refurbishing a home on the outskirts of town. The film crew follows up on her, but also manage to piss off the townsfolk after they not only film a funeral, but also manage to stir up a commotion after playful bickering in a bar turns into the locals turning completely against them. By the end of the film, guts are flying and the townsfolk and film crew are being slaughtered left and right.

What I would like to point out first is that the film crew, Greg Abernathy (played by David Alpay), Alex Torini (Played by Kris Lemche), and Sarah Elroy (played by Mia Faith), are all able to make their characters feel less like written, scripted works of fiction and more like real life co-workers shooting the shit. I've rarely seen this in a film such as this; most of the time the dialogue feels put on and the movements from the actors are stiff and unforgivable. What everyone on set is able to do is miraculous. 

The plot itself does have a few things that could have been left out. Abernathy's Afghanistan background never really amounted to anything, for example, and I felt as if that whole arc was wasted potential. The idiocy of the characters, while mind boggling, is humorous. As they are stared down by townsfolk wielding axes and other weapons, rather than running as far away as possible, the film crew decides to stay put. This is a deliberate payout as it mocks every single horror film ever where they try to write their characters out as curious and intelligent. No, they're neither. They're fucking dumb. Wright and Lender know this all too well, and their parody goes noticed. 

The best part of the film resides all within Brigid Brannagh's Becky Westlake. Not only is she, as an actor, the best to watch on screen, but her character is shrouded in mystery. While her demeanor is sweet and herself a very gorgeous woman, there is always a sinister air of mystery surrounding her. That is all answered by the end of the film. 

I also loved how the film went from being a very tame thriller film that explored the characters and the history of the town they're in to a gigantic and explosive horror film. Characters die left and right and I was left shouting at the screen, "No, don't kill that one off!" I would not say I was devastated by the loss of these characters, but I would have liked to see them survive. The film goes off of the lone survivor scenario, and theoretically speaking that lone survivor is the one who edited, scored, and cut the film. This is exactly how Wright and Lender were able to also avoid any shoddy found footage conventions; this is a professional film made by a character in the film who is a filmmaker. Filmception. 

While I can't say that They're Watching will be the film to revitalize found footage films or at least show other filmmakers how any movie in this particular genre should be done, I am willing to admit that this is a funny and suspicious thriller film that you'll want to figure out. The only problem with that is you will not see the twisty end coming. And, for that, I give They're Watching a solid 7 out of 10. 
450
Brutal Resonance

They're Watching

7.0
"Good"
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Director: Micah Wright, Jay Lender
Writer: Micah Wright, Jay Lender
Star actors: David Alpay, Brigid Brannagh, Kris Lemche, Carrie Genzel, Dimitri Diatchenko, MIa Faith
Found footage films have become a rancid joke amongst film goers. While the Blair Witch Project popularized the genre - especially with horror/sci-fi filmmakers - modern day series such as Paranormal Activity and V/H/S have brought the genre down the drain. Not saying that at least the first entries in those series had good moments, but the rest were amateur at best. Micah Wright and Jay Lender both understood this, and therefore decided to give their all to a new style of found footage film with their directorial debut feature film, They're Watching

Nauseous shaky cams and pointless lead character wandering around empty environments that lead to jump scares are gone, which led the two directors to argue that their movie is less of a found footage film and is more of a first person thriller route. I have to agree with that as their characters in the film are professional filmmakers themselves, which means they know how to handle a camera and boom stick and the like. So, annoying angles and the like are gone, and refreshing, steady sights are here to stay. 

The movie follows a group of filmmakers shooting for a show called House Hunters Global, where they head to a remote Eastern European village called Moldova. Rumors of witch burnings as well as superstitious floats the town, but that doesn't stop eager house hunter Becky Westlake from purchasing and refurbishing a home on the outskirts of town. The film crew follows up on her, but also manage to piss off the townsfolk after they not only film a funeral, but also manage to stir up a commotion after playful bickering in a bar turns into the locals turning completely against them. By the end of the film, guts are flying and the townsfolk and film crew are being slaughtered left and right.

What I would like to point out first is that the film crew, Greg Abernathy (played by David Alpay), Alex Torini (Played by Kris Lemche), and Sarah Elroy (played by Mia Faith), are all able to make their characters feel less like written, scripted works of fiction and more like real life co-workers shooting the shit. I've rarely seen this in a film such as this; most of the time the dialogue feels put on and the movements from the actors are stiff and unforgivable. What everyone on set is able to do is miraculous. 

The plot itself does have a few things that could have been left out. Abernathy's Afghanistan background never really amounted to anything, for example, and I felt as if that whole arc was wasted potential. The idiocy of the characters, while mind boggling, is humorous. As they are stared down by townsfolk wielding axes and other weapons, rather than running as far away as possible, the film crew decides to stay put. This is a deliberate payout as it mocks every single horror film ever where they try to write their characters out as curious and intelligent. No, they're neither. They're fucking dumb. Wright and Lender know this all too well, and their parody goes noticed. 

The best part of the film resides all within Brigid Brannagh's Becky Westlake. Not only is she, as an actor, the best to watch on screen, but her character is shrouded in mystery. While her demeanor is sweet and herself a very gorgeous woman, there is always a sinister air of mystery surrounding her. That is all answered by the end of the film. 

I also loved how the film went from being a very tame thriller film that explored the characters and the history of the town they're in to a gigantic and explosive horror film. Characters die left and right and I was left shouting at the screen, "No, don't kill that one off!" I would not say I was devastated by the loss of these characters, but I would have liked to see them survive. The film goes off of the lone survivor scenario, and theoretically speaking that lone survivor is the one who edited, scored, and cut the film. This is exactly how Wright and Lender were able to also avoid any shoddy found footage conventions; this is a professional film made by a character in the film who is a filmmaker. Filmception. 

While I can't say that They're Watching will be the film to revitalize found footage films or at least show other filmmakers how any movie in this particular genre should be done, I am willing to admit that this is a funny and suspicious thriller film that you'll want to figure out. The only problem with that is you will not see the twisty end coming. And, for that, I give They're Watching a solid 7 out of 10. 
Mar 20 2016

Steven Gullotta

info@brutalresonance.com
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.

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Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

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