Director Sean Carter and screenwriter Joseph Dembner (both their first features) brought an interesting and highly panned movie out of post-production hell resting in the turmoil since 2014, the producers calling the film Home Invasion but later realizing the title lacked both originality and substance, especially since that title had over 10 features and countless television episodes connected to it. The distribution came from Screen Gems for the United States, and the production company Voltage Pictures backed the film, so neither company holds the blame directly why the film anguished in despair of darkness, these firms understand the horror genre very well, that is just another mystery. The film achieved a strange and limited release, occurring on Halloween Night, at 10 pm across the country, and while the date might seem like a great thought, actuality it failed miserably, thinking about of the activities on the same night does one really want to stay in a darkened theater. Just a mere thought of fright fest on televisions, parties, haunted tours and house galore, the stiff competition dampens the success for the film. I saw this film in a theater with about twelve other people, not counting my entourage, and the sole reason it was a special engagement one night only.
Home invasion films, fit into an interest subgenre of horror, with the films sometimes crossing into the revenge pattern or slasher mix, namely the with movies such as Funny Games (1997) and of course the Saw flicks, needless to say easily over 140 films occupy this residence of mayhem. Keep Watching can best described as The Strangers (2008) meet Saw (2004) and hang out with a pitiful family as they find themselves in a My Little Eye (2002) world. Some critics slammed the film with the shortest of reviews many tally under 100 words; however this review will explore the plot and issues
The film opens with a news broadcast concerning the mass murder of a family and one of them missing, but also citizen’s interviews as they watched a video of the killing, thinking it was fake or just another horror movie, and found themselves entertained. It transitioned to a person unseen watching various social media accounts similar to Facebook, and selecting stars as Jamie Mitchell (Bella Thorne) whose living a troubled life of teenager, her father recently married a much younger woman, closer to her own age. The screen fills with videos, secretive stalking, but thanks to beloved interactions with her social accounts, everyone knows everything, trips, friends, and issues. The little window of insights shows the easily access one has to their lives and thanks to pictures into their actual homes, making the private seem more transparent. Many movies and television episodes tried to show this element but it loses the connection to the audience and this brief inclusion makes it hit home quickly. Soon enough the Mitchells go one a 10-day vacation, the assailants enter and begin to map out the entire home, with micro cameras from a spy store deluxe, and other mischievous toys and devices, after all in 240 hours anything becomes possible. Once the family comes home the fun begins, with father hiding secrets, as is Jamie, and then the issue of different wallpaper in her room, clearly trust with family and linked to her mother, meanwhile the hidden cameras adds a depth to scenes and rooms, including an uncalled visitor the pothead uncle. A few moments of creep factors, copying from The Strangers and soon enough trapping them in their home with brief ingenious devices just hidden around the unkempt yard the killing spree starts. Some of it becomes too cliché but allows for entertainment especially implantation of a drone, with a few jump scares, but Chandler Riggs (as John) known for his Walking Dead role, feels more as a toss aside role, a non factor.
A few glitches exists, the acting at times becomes wooden, repeat sequences, namely chases, and pushing the technical angle, yet all of it serves the purposes of generating a what-if scenario of killing versus being killing. While the reason for all this seems hidden or even unjustified, sometimes, people in life and killers in films really need no reason to kill; they merely act on their own value system. Also, the point which some note how could one get away with this, strange things exist on the net, sites which show real beheadings, the dark web and as the film shows the killers obviously prepping to torch the home, ridding evidence of the cameras, a thought of learning from mistakes. Needless to say the movie uses the latest freaky element the balloons, remember its made 3-years ago before red balloons, terrorized people.
Sadly, I don’t think a sequel lies ahead for this production, and that hurts the ending a bit, but still the movie gives new angle in the ‘Home Invasion’ category and allows for a warning against what to post on social media, as someone always watching, with all the cameras and drones, the escape feels more futile.
IMDb Rating: 5.7/10
Baron’s Rating: 5/10