While The Blair Witch Project may not have been the first, first-person horror, it was the first that got international exposure. People flocked to the theatres to see it and push it well over the $240 million mark. Not too shabby for a film that cost all of $60,000 to make. Since then many films have tried to catch the same success. And while some have done better than others, none have managed to quite reach the same level. He’s Watching is the latest film to attempt it, and while it does have some truly scary moments, it doesn’t manage to hold the thrills from start to finish.
Iris (Iris Serena Estes) and Lucas (Lucas Steel Estes) are home alone. Their parents are hospitalized with a deadly virus that is quickly lowering the surplus population. To help pass the time they film their days as a sort of video log. They film these vlogs so that their parents can watch when they come home. Strange, unexplainable things start happening though, including flashing lights, moving objects and the appearance of videos neither of them shot. At first it’s a nightmare. But soon the children start trying to decipher the meaning behind the clues that whoever or whatever are leaving behind. These things make them wonder if it’s something sinister reaching out to torment them, or something else altogether.
He’s Watching does a great job building suspense, but it eventually wastes that suspense when the film decides to go off on tangents that turns the film into a bizarre art house project. There are flashing sequences that may or may not be dreams or visions. These scenes really just makes you want to turn the film off instead of trying to figure out what it all means. On top of that, the film has the kids come to certain conclusions. Ones adults can never decipher takes away from the terror.
Iris and Lucas do a great job in their roles, which is surprising considering it was the first ever roles, and it was their dad Jacob Estes who wrote and directed the film. Of course being real life siblings probably helped them realistically portray siblings. The biggest problem with He’s Watching however was the writing. It would have worked much better without the deadly plague background storyline, or the confusing flashing sequences. Estes should have just kept it simple, with a paranormal horror story instead of mixing all the different elements he used.
He’s Watching has its moments of enjoyment, but ends up being disappointing when it tries doing too much. It could be interesting to see the film recut though, to help it flow a lot better than it does.