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Now on Netflix: They’re Watching (2016)

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The world needs more fun movies about witchcraft.

With They’re Watching, we get exactly that.

An American production team travels to Moldova to film a follow-up segment for a home improvement show. While it’s business as usual at first, things start to get tricky once those silly Americans start filming things they should never have seen in the first place. The highly superstitious village wants the Americans to leave – by death, not by plane.

The key word in this movie is “fun”. Too many movies attempt to make a truly horrifying film by using tired tropes and overused cliches of the genre and fail. They’re Watching understands that a horror movie can be fun, and exploits this fact throughout the course of the film. The tone is set from the very beginning of the film, which shows a woman running in the woods and receiving an ax to the face before quickly cutting to the introductory sequence of the television show. You know from this point that you are about to witness something pretty strange.

Another standout of the film is that, unlike many found footage films, it’s all too easy to forget that this is, in fact, a found footage crew. Generally, we are treated to 90-minutes of low-quality shaky cam. Here, the footage is from a show that’s shot in high definition. In turn, we get a found footage movie that’s shot in high definition. Thankfully. The film uses no tricks to make it look like it was filmed on outdated tape or anything like that. Instead, the picture quality is crystal clear and crisp. Once again, this is much to the advantage of the film. It’s incredibly easy on the eyes.

The lead characters have an interesting chemistry, and it never feels too forced. Sarah Ellroy (Mia Faith) is new to the crew; she joins the established production team of Greg (David Alpay) and Alex (Kris Lemche), who work under the direction of cruel-hearted Kate (Carrie Genzel). Kris Lemche, in particular, stands out in his role for being so unbearably annoying and sarcastic but somehow managing to make you smile scene after scene, regardless of whether or not you want to. He’s like the bratty little brother you never had or wanted. Still, you can’t help but learn to love the character.

Becky (Brigid Brannagh), the homeowner, is another standout part of the film. She and local real estate agent Vladimir (Dimitri Diatchenko) add a sense of tenderness and outright humor, respectively. And speaking of humor…

They’re Watching is funny – but it’s not always in your face.

While it’s been billed as a horror comedy, the comedy aspects are very subtle. It’s very dry humor. There’s not much along the lines of What We Do in the Shadows here. Quirky responses and hilarious exchanges between the crew and the locals are what brings in the laughs here. Still, nothing is ever too over the top or ridiculous – that is, until the end.

Without spoiling anything, it needs to be said that the ending is just insane. Absolutely insane. This will either kill the movie for some viewers or come as a delightful surprise, and I can see both sides of the argument. Personally, I feel that the weirder this movie can be, the better it will be. Needless to say, I loved the direction this film went in the last five minutes. It’s not exactly scary. It’s just bizarre. The ending of They’re Watching contains a little too much CGI, but I can forgive that due to the other obvious strengths of the film.

The writers/directors of They’re Watching have treated us with a hidden gem here. Thanks to Netflix, you can stream it now. So stay in this weekend instead of taking a trip out to the movies – it’s much cheaper, and is probably much more entertaining than anything that’s currently playing.

 

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