Sy Cody White’s “Watchers” is a stylish, intriguing short thriller about a Wall Street accountant whose life is spiraling out of control. Living alone in a tiny apartment, he makes repeated yet futile attempts to telephone his estranged wife – and his voicemail messages become increasingly desperate as contact fails to materialize. The stress of his situation takes its toll on his work, and even his too-patient boss is beginning to become alarmed at what is taking place.
Even more problematic are the accountant’s repeated encounters with strange people that appear to be following him as he goes about the city. Sometimes these people just stare at him, while in other cases they make cryptic yet sinister comments about life and death. Things get out of control when it seems that one of these people has broken into his apartment to leave a vague message on a sticky pad.
Although the film’s somewhat unlikely denouement doesn’t really pack the gut-punch that the tricky set-up requires, “The Watchers” is still a remarkable feat of independent filmmaking. White brilliantly transforms New York’s sprawling streets into tightly focused cells of paranoia and emotional isolation. Jeff Moffitt’s performance as the man fighting for his sanity resonates with chilling anxiety – his abrupt mood shifts and jittery body language provide an invigorating portrait of an individual at odds with his world and himself.
What is even more remarkable is learning that this 28-minute film is the first effort from White and Moffitt’s Two Man Crew Productions, and that it was shot in seven days on multiple New York locations for a mere $350. For a rookie effort on a shoestring budget, “The Watchers” is a knockout.