Director Dave Parker, known for his underrated 2009 film The Hills Run Red, and the awesome “Sweet Tooth” segment of Tales of Halloween, now brings horror audiences something much different with It Watches (now available on VOD). Parker co-wrote the new thriller with Ivan Djurovic, who also stars as the main character.
Djurovic is Andre, a man who agrees to take on a house-sitting gig in the Hollywood hills to help out his friend Robert, and also to give himself a little R&R while he recovers from a car accident that has left him with some memory loss. Things definitely are not relaxing for Andre, though, when strange things start to happen and the truth of the house slowly reveals itself to him.
It Watches is one of those films where you never are really sure what kind of movie you are watching. At first, it seems to have the classic setup for a haunted house story–a guy goes to a house alone and weird stuff happens. One early scare in particular seems to solidify this idea. But as the movie goes on, other instances occur that don’t go along with that rationale at all, such as the very uncomfortable visit from a neighbor while Andre is having dinner with his girlfriend. Other clues and red herrings are dropped into the plot to keep the audience playing this guessing game, which is at times confusing, but will keep you watching until the end.
Adding to all this is the fact that Andre is an unreliable narrator. He has no memory of his car accident, but for all we know the amnesia could go much deeper than that. The audience really doesn’t know anything about him at all, only what little we learn from him making video diaries–something his doctor recommends to help jog his memory. And, honestly, his character is not easy to get behind. He seems sweet and likeable enough, if not a little goofy, but there is definitely something off about his (lack of) personality, or the way that Djurovic plays him. Looking back on the character as a whole, though, his acting choices make a lot more sense. Almost stealing the show from him in one scene is James Duval (Donnie Darko), who shows up as the nosy neighbor who gets a little too personal.
The house, which is the only location for It Watches, is distinctly modern and very L.A., from what I imagine. There is not much to work with aesthetic-wise because the house is very sparse in decoration, save for some creepy mannequins serving as art in the living room. They are covered with white sheets to creep you out even more. The house is an odd, but also a smart, choice for the film because it’s against type. It’s a tiny house on a hill, next to a busy street, and doesn’t seem at all like it should be the location for a horror movie. But once the momentum ramps up, the dark walls and enclosed spaces start to work much better for the story in terms of claustrophobia.
While the conclusion definitely comes as a surprise, it is mostly a head-scratcher. It’s a complete turn from how the movie starts out, which is not a bad thing, but I feel like I am missing a lot of key information. I was hoping for a flashback scene or something to explain the hows and whys of the events leading up to this revelation. The movie just ends, and leaves a few too many questions unanswered. Still, It Watches on the whole is an indie thriller with a different construction that offers up some nice unexpected moments, especially toward the conclusion.
Catch It Watches now on VOD, or on DVD February 21, 2017.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): David Parker
Writer(s): David Parker and Ivan Djurovic
Stars: Ivan Djurovic, James Duval, Sanny Van Heteren
Release: December 6, 2016 (VOD)
Studio/ Production Co: ID Entertainment
Length: 86 minutes