“Firecracker” filmmaker Steve Balderson is back and this time he has us watch a guy go f**k himself. Really.
Based on the novel by the same name, Internets sensation Matt Riddlehoover stars as Jonathan Barrows, a man deeply in love…with himself – so much so that he tapes his picture to the face of a blow-up doll and has “quality time” with it. Jonathan isn’t gay, nor is he straight – these terms have no meaning as he believes himself to be vastly superior to any other being walking the Earth and the mere presence of another’s flesh makes him nauseous.
“Watch Out” has us follow Jonathan to Benton Harbor, Michigan where he’s interviewing for a teaching gig at the town’s community college. And that’s about as thick as the plot gets. The bulk of the film has Jonathan set up in a shabby little motel room as he waits to hear about his interview. This leaves plenty of time for masturbation and self-adoration. There are also numerous encounters with the inferior townsfolk who all seem helplessly attracted to him. Jonathan cuts them down, one by one, with his sharp tongue and burning hatred. It’s frequently hilarious, but also a little nerve wracking as you’re always wondering where this is all going. Certainly this isn’t just a big piece of candy hate. There’s gotta be a price for this. At some point, something is going to happen and it will be time to pay the piper. And an hour into the feature, that something does finally occur. Without giving too much away, the movie takes an even darker twist, revealing a whole other evil side of Jonathan – perhaps real, perhaps imaginary.
This is not a nice movie for nice people. One really does need to have a love for dark humor intact to find any of this funny, or even watchable. Watching Jonathan spread his hate throughout this small town is like watching the Marbles performaing their evil deeds in “Pink Flamingos.” And, like John Waters’ classic, “Watch Out” too contains plenty of nudity. No, there are no singing buttholes here, but I am sure many will find some of these nude situations rather…eye popping.
Speaking of eye popping – like Popeye, “Watch Out” proudly declares “I am what I am!” It totally plays by its own rules through its brave performances and bizarre story structure. Its undefinable and a frightening piece of work. Its what indie movies should be all about.