Filmed back in 2011 as COLDWATER and shelved after a few convention and festival screenings Dave Parker’s follow up to THE HILLS RUN RED is finally seeing release under the title IT WATCHES. I saw it via an on-line film festival in 2014 and was surprised it hadn’t found distribution. Apart from a less than satisfying ending it was a fairly solid and creepy film.
Andre (Ivan Djurovic who also co-wrote) is recovering from a car accident when his buddy Robert (Rick Irwin THE DEAD HATE THE LIVING, 30 MINUTES OR LESS) has to bail on a house sitting gig and talks him into filling in for him. Andre is left alone in a lavish creepy house in the hills above LA with a large supply of medical marijuana and booze. Perhaps unsurprisingly he starts seeing, or thinking he is seeing things. When a visit from his girlfriend Rachel (Sanny van Heteren HELLRAISER: REVELATIONS) is interrupted by an odd acting neighbor (James Duval DONNY DARKO) and she promptly vanishes he starts looking for clues. As secrets are revealed he begins to learn things he’d rather not know.
One problem IT WATCHES has is that Parker’s previous films THE HILLS RUN RED and THE DEAD HATE THE LIVING were both fairly fast paced and bloody. This is a slow burn, it’s nearly 20 minutes in before anything even remotely odd happens, and there’s almost no blood. IT WATCHES builds it’s suspense slowly but steadily until the tension is almost unbearable. A half glimpsed shape moving in another room, something caught on one of the house’s security cams, a noise. With Rachel’s disappearance Andre’s panic, the revelations build faster until it reaches it climax, which has about the only action in the film. Those expecting another blood bath would be have been sadly disappointed.
The film was at points referred to as found footage, which thankfully isn’t true. Portions of it are seen through the house’s security system and the video camera used as a diary, but their added into a standard perspective film. The cinematography in the non camera footage is excellent and adds a lot to the film, helping to make the house itself seem menacing.
I don’t want to spoil it but the ending was a big problem when I first saw it. The original tag line and an early scene made it easy to guess, and while it left some doubt as to what was going on, it leaned heavily towards the less satisfying explanation. For this release they’ve added a voice over that clears things up, sadly not for the better. It really hurts the film and takes a lot away from it’s final impact.
For those who like a slow burn and can stay with it this will be a mostly gripping film. Just be prepared for a let down at the end. It’s not a deal breaker but it’s a big disappointment.
Cashing in on the acclaim Parker got for the Sweet Tooth segment of TALES OF HALLOWEEN (the film’s publicity incorrectly cites him as the director of the whole film) Uncork’d Entertainment is releasing IT WATCHES on VOD December 6th, 2016 and DVD February 21st, 2017.