Just what the world needs: another found-footage horror movie.
At least They’re Watching has a unique setting: the tiny eastern European country of Moldova (though it was actually filmed in neighboring Romania).
And its premise is kind of fun, too. Producers for a House Hunters International-style show find themselves trapped outside the creepy town of Pavlovka with a bunch of creepy townspeople while filming a home-makeover segment.
But the film’s shifting tones — from comedy to suspense to straight-up low-budget schlock by the end — do it few favors.
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At first, the entitled American TV crew — no-nonsense producer Kate (Carrie Genzel, All My Children), former hard-news and self-serious camera man Greg (David Alpay, The Tudors), playful sound guy Alex (Kris Lemche, Haven), and newbie assistant Sarah (Mia Faith, Dracano) — show nothing but disdain for Pavlovka. They just want to get in, shoot the segment at the home of expat American artist Becky (Brigid Brannagh, Army Wives) and get out of there.
That condescension turns to fear as they realize they can’t leave. The best parts of They’re Watching are in its middle, as directors Jay Lender and Micah Wright create a welcome sense of rising tension. The performances, especially that of Alpay as a man haunted by his days in Afghanistan, are all good.
But that’s squandered in the third act as They’re Watching descends into a cheaply made slaughter fest that goes for laughs. It’s a turnoff from what could have been a well-executed exercise in unease.
Exclusive: AMC Grapevine Mills; video-on-demand
Directors: Jay Lender, Micah Wright
Cast: Mia Faith, David Alpay, Kris Lemche, Brigid Brannagh, Carrie Genzel
Running time: 95 min.