Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Director: Dave Parker
Writer: Dave Parker, Ivan Djurovic
Producer: Esther Goodstein, Ivan Djurovic, David Parker
Stars: Ivan Djurovic, Rick Irwin, Sanny van Heteren, James Duval
An amnesiac housesitter comes to believe strange happenings in an odd home might be connected to more sinister activity.
I was sold on seeing “It Watches” solely on the strength of director Dave Parker’s previous outings in the helmer’s chair with “The Hills Run Red” and his “Sweet Tooth” segment from “Tales of Halloween” (review here). Then I discovered “It Watches” was previously titled “ColdWater,” a movie that apparently premiered at a film festival in 2011 before disappearing for half a decade, finally reemerging in 2016 under its new name. To say initial “this could be good” optimism was swiftly snuffed out by “uh oh” uncertainty would be an understatement.
Worry was well warranted. Because speaking of understatements, describing “It Watches” as not a very good movie would be something like saying John Wayne Gacy was not a very good clown.
In any other story summary, the following might be considered a spoiler. Except “It Watches” only offers these two dots to connect, so there really isn’t any reveal to be spoiled.
Hoping to recover from amnesia following an unspecified accident, Andre accepts a job housesitting alone in an L.A. canyon home. A strange sense of someone watching is already odd, but a news report of an unidentified serial killer on the loose after leaving a mutilated woman in a car nearby is additionally alarming.
You’d have to be suffering from a concussion yourself to not see how this will add up. Not even one quarter of the way through its runtime and “It Watches” shows all of its cards before the turn or the river is flipped. If Samuel Morse hadn’t invented the telegraph, this “twist” could file for the patent.
What are we going to do while we wait for the movie to catch up with what we already know? How about we watch Andre apply underarm deodorant and pomade in preparation for a date? Maybe a dissolve montage of a plastic bag inflating with marijuana smoke can kill more time? And when this movie runs short on its own content, it can always cover gaps with clips from a couple of public domain horror movies.
Andre’s long stretch of solitude is interrupted for that aforementioned date with love interest Rachel. Their in-house dinner is in turn interrupted by a knock at the door from a mystery man named Guy.
Claiming to be a neighbor, Guy insists on inspecting the locks in the house after receiving a call from police warning of escaped red herrings in the area. Andre allows Guy inside and even leaves him alone with Rachel while he inspects doors and windows in the basement by himself.
When Andre returns, Rachel is gone. Guy, who is now suspiciously wearing gloves and helping himself to wine, nonchalantly says she left. Andre’s first response is to ask, “did she say why?” You know, like any reasonable person would react when automatically accepting a stranger’s word that a guest departed suddenly without waiting ten seconds to say goodbye.
Andre’s brain-damaged behavior gets better. And by better, I mean even more outrageously illogical.
Paranoid and panicking, Andre takes a trip to the freezer while weighing his next move. Underneath some ice he finds a bottle of Jaegermeister. Andre pours himself a drink and out falls a USB thumb drive. Of course, this drive contains a secret video that is a key clue in Andre uncovering what is really going on.
Where do we begin dissecting the nonsensical serendipity of this stupid sequence? Which is the sillier notion: that someone would keep critical criminal evidence submerged in a bottle of booze or that someone would actually want to drink a full glass of Jaegermeister?
All of the absurdities above pale in comparison to an intelligence insulting perp walk that concludes the movie. Rarely does an implausible mystery crumble this completely under the full weight of countless discrepancies and outright impossibilities.
The movie’s sole shock comes from an end credit reveal that a gaffer and two camera assistants apparently worked on the film. You’d never guess given the blown out backgrounds and soft focus scenes. Although you might never notice if you’re preoccupied with wondering why the camera has an insatiable obsession with fish-eye lenses and aerial drones.
By willingly ranking this movie with one full star out of four, a generosity I can’t fully justify, I may have qualified myself for some sort of humanitarian award. Acting is so stiff it could hide in a morgue, which is probably where this movie should hide too. “It Watches.” You shouldn’t.
Review Score: 25