The number one rule in any cabin in the woods horror is to get out of the house NOW! Unfortunately, in director Erik Bernard’s thriller I’ll Be Watching, our heroine, Julie (Eliza Taylor), decides to throw back a few bottles of Merlot and give it a go against a masked killer and an all-powerful A.I. system.
After the murder of her sister, Julie and her husband, Marcus (Bob Morely), move to the country to heal and save their marriage. Julie, an artist, is experiencing artist’s block, coping with copious amounts of wine and popping pills to numb the pain of not only the loss of her sister but of her broken foot caused by tripping over her tech guru husband’s robot vacuum. Marcus is called out of town for an investor meeting in Hong Kong to discuss financial backing for “Hera,” his latest voice-activated assistant system. Marcus has Hera controlling everything in their new home: the security, the HVAC system, and even the washer and dryer.
While Marcus is away, Julie begins hearing strange noises in their home. It doesn’t take long for Julie to suspect that she is not alone. Is it the pills and wine? Is it part of the grieving process? Is it her sister’s murderer? Is it Hera? One thing is certain: Julie can’t paint her way out of this one.
I’ll Be Watching pulls good ideas from great movies. There are elements of Someone’s Watching Me!, Her, and Hush. Sadly, it cannot commit to which movie it wants to be and what threat to focus on. You’re never worried for Julie because she is never consistently worried. Terror occurs, and then it’s back to making PB&J sandwiches, drinking wine, and taking naps like nothing happened. Nearly every plot device is dropped completely or left on the back burner.
“…doesn’t take long for Julie to suspect that she is not alone.”
For example, Julie has a broken foot and is disadvantaged by wearing a cast throughout the 90-minute runtime. You might recall Bruce Willis’ bare feet in Die Hard or James Caan’s broken leg in Misery, but for the most part, Julie gets around just fine. She even has no problem running from the killer. How about Julie being an up-and-coming painter? The entire opening focuses on her art. There is definitely a parallel here between the lead being a creator of art, reflecting life around us, and her husband creating Hera, controlling life around us. But you would think there would be a scene where Julie’s painting skills might help her.
Another gripe about I’ll Be Watching is that every other character dismisses Julie’s fear that something is going on too easily. “Maybe it was a nightmare,” “You’re just tired,” “Maybe you’re just drunk,” and yes, even “the best solution to everything is a good orgasm.” All these dismissive comments to her horror and fragile mental state would be understandable if her sister hadn’t just been murdered and the killer is still on the loose. Not one person thinks it’s silly that after your relative is killed in your home, the solution is to move to the most secluded place in America to heal. Really?
The dialogue is clunky and filled with too much exposition. The pacing is messy. At times, this feels like a short in that it needs to get all this information out as quickly as possible for a concise running time. But, the film is an hour and a half and therefore has plenty of time to spread out exposition. I’ll Be Watching spends the entire duration trying to confuse and mislead the audience as to exactly who and what is after Julie that by the time the twist ending hits, you’re just as confused as when the movie started. The viewer is isolated with the main character, and yet we don’t get to know her. You can see glimpses of other great horror movies here, but sadly, you have to squint.
"…can see glimpses of other great horror movies here..."