*. They’re Watching is a fairly typical found-footage movie, about the crew of a home improvement show who fly off to Moldova to film the renos a young couple have made to their fixer-upper. I’d like to confess here that I didn’t even know that Moldova was a country. I thought it was part of Romania. There’s no telling what you’ll learn from watching trash movies.
*. The main hook here is that this is supposed to be a comedy, or horror-comedy. And it does have a lighthearted air to it. But it’s not very funny, or even an effective satire, and the fact is we’ve been down this road too many times before. Not just for being another shaky-cam movie but for the asshole Americans (and one Canadian, when it’s convenient) abroad experiencing a round of tourist terror.
*. Just as an aside, I find I’m getting a little tired of movies that simply aren’t very good claiming to be comedies. Or ironic in some way. Maybe that’s what they’re meant to be, but if they’re not funny then this seems to make things even worse. I watched this movie around the same time I watched Tragedy Girls, another supposed comedy-horror that wasn’t funny at all. Perhaps I’m just too old to get it. But I suspect there really isn’t that much to get.
*. In any event, I came away unimpressed. Here are my main complaints.
*. Whatever you think of the found-footage genre, they’re supposed to play by the rules, however awkward this makes the proceedings. The main rule being that everything we see is presumed to be stitched together out of film actually shot by the characters in the drama. That isn’t the case here, as there are scenes that don’t seem to have anybody behind the camera. I thought on a couple of occasions that the witch might be doing some filming, but that doesn’t make sense either.
*. Not that the character of the witch makes a lot of sense anyway. Has she possessed Becky, or has she always been Becky? If Goran hadn’t cheated on her, would she still have gone into full berserker mode? Is she getting revenge on the rest of the crew? For what? I didn’t understand any of this. Or why she needed a director to film her violence. I guess it may fit in with the story of Taliban atrocities, but those dots aren’t easy to connect.
*. You’ll note I didn’t give any spoiler alert for what I just said about Becky being the witch. Apparently this is considered to be a twist. But I don’t see how it could be. Surely we know from the first time we see her renovated house and she starts talking about the basement that she isn’t on the level.
*. If we assume the movie is a comedy, why does it waste so much time building up Greg’s Afghanistan story? Even if it weren’t a comedy why would they bother with all that? It doesn’t relate to anything, and is never used (except to get him a quickie pity-fuck from Sarah).
*. I’m not a fan of the cliché of characters running through dark woods with flashlights. But are we to assume in this film that Becky, and none of the crew, have flashlights? Night vision on their cameras is all they’ve got?
*. The special effects at the end are pretty bad, and all the shaky camera work, damaged film, and scrambled editing doesn’t help. I’m sure they were going for silly, but I’m not sure they even achieved that. It just struck me as being a mess.
*. The idea of making Alex the sole survivor was interesting. Unfortunately, it’s already partly given away in the film’s opening, which gives us a scene from the end of the movie. I’m not sure that was a smart move, or necessary.
*. I don’t have very much positive to say about this one. If you’re a fan of the genre you may find it enjoyable, or at least a diversion. Beyond that, the impression I was left with was that they just weren’t trying very hard.