No Eyes Should Peer Upon ‘They’re Watching’

GameStop, Inc.

theyre-watching-0002

I’ve never hidden the fact that I don’t care for the horror subgenre of found footage. Not only do I find that form of filmmaking inherently un-cinematic, it also leads to numerous questionable storytelling decisions. Almost every single one of these movies are filled with moments where characters of lacking intelligence pause and continue to record despite the fact they should be running for their lives. The latest entry in the found footage subgenre is They’re Watching, written and directed by Micah Wright and Jay Lender, each a veteran in the field of comics, video games, and animation making their live action debut. They’re Watching is another fatally flawed chapter in the annals of horror, an unimaginative piece of tedium employing a tired horror gimmick.

After starting with a glimpse into the end and revealing a major character’s death, They’re Watching does start out with what could be an interesting premise for a found footage movie. For the first few minutes, the movie plays out like a reality show. It follows Becky (Brigid Brannagh), an American artist, and her husband Goran (Cristian Balint), a professional soccer player, finding a fixer-upper in the Eastern European country of Moldova with the help of local real estate agent Vladmir (Dimitri Diatchenko). Sadly, this is where the film’s inventiveness ends.

From there we follow Greg (David Alpay), Alex (Kris Lemche), and Sarah (Mia Faith), three snarky Americans working as the film crew doing a follow up for the reality show. Of course they’re recording every single moment of their trip. They travel to Moldova to meet up with their foul-mouthed producer Kate (Carrie Genzel) and Vladmir to see the renovations that Becky and Goran have undertaken. After they accidentally enter a funeral for three children, the American film crew is spooked by various locals, each slightly odder than the next. Naturally, there’s a big twist and everyone’s life is at stake. But they keep their damn cameras rolling the whole time through.

The unforgivable flaw of They’re Watching is the fact that the film is simply boring. It takes more than two-thirds of the film’s running time to get to the big reveal, and the reveal is so painfully stupid that it couldn’t have saved the story had it been revealed earlier. Combined with the porous special effects that are tossed in to the conclusion, They’re Watching provides way too few thrills way too late. The inescapable fact is, like so many found footage movies before it, this movie has a running time that consists of boring, unoriginal characters bickering while the camera is always rolling for some reason. Not only that, we’re presented with numerous scenes of characters going over their various equipment, giving the audience a tutorial on the cameras being used. You know – cinema!

I wish I could I point to the virtues of They’re Watching, but they’re just not there. It’s always easy to understand why filmmakers choose to use the found footage genre. After all, it’s an affordable way to tell a spooky story. And many great filmmakers get their start by doing low budget horror. But the greats don’t tie their story to tired gimmicks, nor do they make their films slogs of apathetic pacing. They’re Watching doesn’t have anything besides a gimmick, and it takes forever to get to the point. Obviously, Micah Wright and Jay Lender have talents that they didn’t display in They’re Watching. They tied themselves to their gimmick without realizing that the gimmick is a dead weight.

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