Hello and Hallo-welcome to the first Witchy Wednesday, where weird sisters are the stars of the show. You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, who are busy attempting to get to know the locals and hopelessly trying to understand why it is no one seems to want to come with them to the house on the edge of town.
Today’s film offering: They’re Watching
Lilly: Oh hey, it’s found footage time! Someday, someone will make a comment about how we watch too much found footage, and maybe we’ll stop for a bit, but suck it, hypothetical future person, today is not that day!
Andy: *Looks at calendar* nor many days for the rest of the month!
Lilly: They’re Watching is a fun little romp into vague notions of Eastern Europe, specifically Moldova, best known to me for this gem from Eurovision 2012. Menacing! The film kicks off with a rip off of shows like Location, Location, Location, showing a young couple finding their dream home on the edge of a small town. It’s a bit of a fixer upper–see: absolute mess–but that doesn’t stop them from saying yes to the mess.
Andy: Whatever else we think of the movie, this part is very, very well done – anybody who has ever endured one of these shows will laugh in recognition. It’s not even really a parody – they’ve just so utterly nailed the banality of property programs. It’s so good that you kind of hold it against the rest of the movie when it’s over.
Lilly: Cut to six months later, and the film crew is coming back to Moldova to see just what the young couple has gotten up to, what renovations had been made to wow them. The crew includes the two original camera men, the producer, and the niece of the production company’s head honcho, so you know she’s going to get flack for that. Joining them is the real estate agent who found the little hovel to call home, Vladimir, who is by far the most engaging and interesting character the film has to offer. But I get ahead of myself.
They’re Watching is a film that plays around with the ‘Outsiders are BAD’ motif in a way that is fun and refreshing. Sometimes, films set in ‘somewhere in Eastern Europe’ can come off as a bit…well, racist, but this take on it does veer a teensy bit away from that. It embraces the ‘Americans Do it the Right Way’ stereotype more so than the silly villagers thinking turnips cure everything stereotype, and I like that.
Andy: Yeah, the horror industry hasn’t ever really been kind to Eastern Europe, all the way back to Dracula, but here at least the villagers are sympathetic in a way you wouldn’t see in, say, an Eli Roth film. It’s hard not to be on their side when the Americans do something utterly crass and the local sheriff has to smooth things over, as he is the only one who speaks English.
Lilly: As found footage goes, I liked the style of this film, even if it went a bit off track in regards to why they were filming–for example, they had chest cams at one point. For why? They are filming a real estate show knock off. Are there a lot of uses for a chest cam in those? No. But did they allow for some fun angles? Yes. So.
Andy: It’s also definitely a movie where I don’t think you’re supposed to root for the characters – it’s found footage, so the mark of death is surely upon some of them – but instead enjoy the ride.
Did you enjoy the ride, Lilly? I did.
Lilly: I definitely did. It had some surprises, some old gags (the camera needs new batteries–wait no, it’s just supernatural interference, how odd!), and some new ways of looking at those villagers who won’t stop watching you while you eat. Go, watch it, and enjoy!
Also, fun side note: it features someone from one of our favourite found footage films, The Frankenstein Theory, Canadian actor Kris Lemche. Fancy that! Go watch!