They're Watching (2016)
Which House? Witch House.
I'm not saying I really like "Found Footage" movies. I mean, I feel they have a lot of potential that nobody makes use of, so maybe that's why I keep watching that genre even though for the most part it's usually less-than-stellar results. This time around, it almost circles back to the one that started the craze to most people - that is, we get some witch action. Should we burn it, or did it come out not so hexed?
Our adventure starts with an event we can only assume is the end, if not of our story of some story, where things have gotten quite out of hand. A quick jump of credits later, and we find ourselves watching a Home Hunters style show on Television, where an odd couple are searching for a rather rustic house with plenty of space for pottery out in the proverbial nowhere. Still, the salesman pitches that "only salesman is best salesman" - to which he isn't wrong - and somehow the house that needs immense amounts of work ends up getting bought with the dreams of tomorrow in hand.
We then meet the rest of our cast, the camera crew driving in to meet the show's host to do the six month follow up on the episode just shown. We learn that everyone hates the host due to her poor and stuck-up attitude, and that the other woman is the newest member of the team. She graduated school for film, but her main task is to be the go-getter and ensure that the cameras are always active - but her coworkers take her out for a spin to show her a thing or two as they collect some B-roll of the town. The villagers aren't quite as happy about this as the happy-go-lucky crew however, as after having "inferred" (the crew doesn't speak the local language) that no filming is allowed inside a church the crew does so anyways. When it's found out, some serious tensions arise between the crew and town.
When they finally get to filming the next day, we discover why everyone doesn't like the host - as she acts like she's got a real bug up her butt, twice yelling out the new girl for "not shutting up." Things proceed with the show, and the owner of the house wants to show them the renovations she's done in the cellar, but a cry from outside draws them there to find one of the crew being attacked by a dog (that was rather friendly before hand). The local policeman shoots the dog (don't ask me what he was doing there) and they hurry to the closest thing that passes as a doctor in the town. That night, they hear an old story (only maybe 100 years old) about a beautiful single woman on the outskirts of town being burned as a witch when things went poorly for the town. After buying rounds for the locals in the restaurant with them, they even seem to be mending relations - until the crew when trading insults amongst each other happens to choose poorly the word witch. Now the entire town is acting weird, and they still have another day of filming! When they go outside after filming the next day to find their car utterly destroyed, it quickly turns into a question of survival for more than just their jobs.
How does the plot fair? Well, to be honest there isn't a whole lot to make it stand out that much compared to the regular formula you might see in a found footage format. The fact it's a film crew helps establish why cameras are always on (unlike most the Paranormal movies) but still rolls on more things than one could really consider reasonable (unlike Apollo 18). It tries to offer up surprises, but from the start as soon as we are introduced to a character we see die in the opening scene we already know a good deal of the outcome - sure, the specifics aren't entirely known, but when you know at least one, possibly two characters are going to die, any tensions pertaining to them before hand sort of just vanish. The movie also plays it's foreshadowing quite heavy handed, like a tree branch "surprising" your face on an ATV.
Effects are generic for the most part. Costumes are modern like (or somewhat dated rural European countryside influenced) and look fine for what they are, but it's not anything that's potentially going to ooh and ah a person. The end of the movie tries to make up for it by adding in a ridiculous amount of fire, flying things, tearing things, proton beams, frogs, and even neon-green projectile vomit. Yeah, it pretty much makes the movie do the same thing a lot of other found footage flicks do - become utterly unbelievable in the ending act, as if to remind you that "hey, it's just a movie buddy." That said, it's a more entertaining utter failure in the disbelief wall - and outside of scratching your head as to how quickly that escalated you at least are entertained by it.
Probably the greatest failing of this movie over others of it's kind is that you are hard-pressed to really find a character that you like. In an attempt to flesh out some characters, they end up feeling a bit over-dramatic, and others are just plain unlikable in the "these people are jerks" sense. It's sad the the most likeable character should be the most throw-away one - the salesman. Even then, he also can quickly become a bit annoying, as ideally he's played very much like a throwaway character and his lines quickly turn into variations of themselves. Acting is well enough - I mean, I did just elaborate how unlikable most the characters are right? Some of the villagers it falters more in the acting department, but part of that could easily just be writing and not acting to blame.
They're Watching is a mediocre movie, better than some and worse than others within it's genre. The story is alright, but still feels largely as though it's plodding around in a typical found footage manner until the proverbial "hitting the fan" occurs. Quality is well enough, so fans of the genre will most likely be entertained by it, although many might find the characters to be insufferably annoying - as though they are the teens in an old slasher movie. It still suffers from some of the normal grievances of found footage - some shakey cam, some wasted filming, the twists that are rather not-surprising - but it does manage to be presentable for the most part.