They’re Watching (2016) – By Baron Craze

When someone reads that individuals associated with the TV Series Spongebob Squarepants or The Angry Beavers and videos games such as The Sopranos or Call of Duty: Black Ops II making their horror film debut, they scratch their heads, however directing duo Jay Lender and Micah Wright do just that with fresh take on the troublesome sub-genre of found footage. They center the movie around a Home Hunters Reality Show Crew, so far so good, then the added twist of locations in foreign countries, opening it to an ancient Eastern European village in Moldova (near Romania). One hears Romania, it all goes on for a wild thought running through minds of all horror fans, Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle) in Transylvania, sorry to say that building is not in this movie. However, the bizarreness exists in the movie, with very relatable characters, surprising highly entertaining, as you definitely need to check all disbelief at the door, especially as this movie generates witchcraft gone wild theme.

It opens first with the client Becky Westlake (Brigid Brannagh), a successful artist leaves her comfort zone, Los Angeles for the past 10-years in search of a new adventure in life, her love interest Goran (Cristian Balint). She decides and chooses the country of Moldova, nestled in the heart of Eastern Europe, near Romania, the scenery looks the part as well as the customs, and the townsfolk upset to see a red-haired woman. Becky also has a small television crew shadowing her, as it all for a show called, “Home Hunters Global with Kate Banks,” and herein this episode, introduce to a colorful and very comical Vladimir Filat (Dimitri Diatchenko), real estate broker whose favorite saying is, “Only broker in Moldova — best broker in Moldova. Quickly enough the client settles on a remote disgusting beyond fixer-upper house, on some mysterious grounds, in the town of Pavolvka. The episode pauses, with a voiceover that tells us we’ll find out more about the renovations after the break, it is here the movie starts officially in a van with three crew members traveling to Becky’s and her progress. Noting and the customary introduction, works in a natural feel of Alex(Kris Lemche) driving, providing team member Greg (David Alpay) a grizzled war journalist with details of the local and proudly self-centered humor at another’s customs. Clearly, the film reinforces the concept of not taking any portion seriously and using reality television as backstory on how unrealistic the shows actually display themselves. Sarah (Mia Faith) jollily sits in the back and enjoys the entire experience, Alex’s and Greg’s real world likely to open her eyes wider. The note to Sarah that they merely the advance team for prima donna and nightmarish producer and host Kate Banks (Carrie Genzel), who exceptionally well convinces every one of her status of cruelty. It shows the crew having fun and entertainment, at the expense of Kate, by drinking at a bar during their downtime, all feels very natural. The crew returns to Becky’s exquisite renovated home, however, the tension shifts, curiosity about the history of Becky’s home raises more questions, such as single independent woman as a witch, while she completes her tactful posturing and defense remarks to questions. The villagers, tend for a not quite happy attitude with the crew, the show, and definitely not neighborly to Becky, as most seem to carry axes, and grimaces as they approach them. A dramatic second half of the film accelerates wonderfully and shows a very interesting spin on how reality television needs to develop in the modern viewing cinema. An impressive absurd terror elevates the standard the dread of what one perceives as the closeout scene only finding the last 10-minutes as a nutty, funny, gory, spin of wonderment.

Lender and Wright develop a relaxed movie with believable cast members and the attention to the details of using a film crew, who know how to avoid the tremendously unfunny and nauseating shaky hand cameras when fast moving to scene. Also, interesting enough rare for a found footage movie to have good jump scares, so that is another checkmark in the positive column, and the crew never truly explain much tech jargon, as it all seen as worthless b-roll anyway. They’re Watching (a reference to both the reality television fans and to the villagers) feels as an ordinary horror film, which at times it does convey, it never settles on a boring moment, continuous strive for that money shot. Herein the filmmakers needed a low budget, safe project dangling their toes in the piranha-filled waters of the dangerous horror genre, and managing decent acting, quirky romances, PTSD reference, and ignorance to unfamiliar customs.

The first time this reviewer ever heard of the country Maldov was with Alex Magala pole dancing sword-swallowing lunatic on Britain’s Got Talent on YouTube, and then again in the summary of this movie, made just another reason to watch it. They’re Watching doesn’t feel stale, not quite suspenseful, nor tension generating, a basic horror movie, though the final 10-minutes’ worth the commitment as long as you understand the ridiculous over-the-top chaos of CGI running amok with sheer buckets of blood splattering the digital effects cheese-wiz everywhere for sheer goofiness conclusion to the movie.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3096858