He’s Watching Is Disappointingly Disjointed

When I first saw the trailer for He’s Watching, I was immediately sold. It promised a weird, mysterious, creepy supernatural horror film, and as a huge fan of that subgenre, I couldn’t wait to see this movie. In fact, I watched it the same day the screener arrived in my inbox. I had really high hopes for this one, but unfortunately, it left me sorely disappointed.

He’s Watching was directed by Jacob Aaron Estes, and it stars Iris Serena Estes and Lucas Steel Estes. It’s about a pair of siblings named Iris and Lucas who are left home alone when their parents go to the hospital to recover from an illness, and at first, everything seems to be going pretty well. Sure, they have their squabbles, but what brother-sister pair doesn’t? However, pretty soon, these kids realize that they’re not alone. There’s an evil presence taking root in their home, and it’s much more sinister than their petty quarrels ever could be.

For about the first half hour or so, He’s Watching had me scratching my head in confusion and saying the word “what” way more than anybody should while watching a movie. It feels more like a loosely connected string of scenes than an actual story, so I had a really tough time getting into it.

The scenes just don’t seem to build on one another, so I didn’t feel like I was watching a cohesive narrative. That made it really difficult for me to forge any sort of bond with the characters or care about the story, and unfortunately, that lack of connection continued into the rest of the movie as well.

A silhouette of a woman behind a curtain

To make things worse, there are also a couple of times in this first act when the story is interrupted by bizarre shots that seem entirely unrelated to the story. Granted, you find out later what those weird shots are, but in the moment, they feel like they have absolutely nothing to do with the movie you’re watching, so they don’t fit at all. They just add to the sense of disjointedness, so the first half hour of He’s Watching is a real chore to get through.

Then, when the second act hits, the movie changes gears slightly and becomes a bit more cohesive at times, but on the whole, it’s still pretty disconnected. This part of the film comes across as a surrealist, almost Lynchian nightmare, but it doesn’t have the qualities that make those kinds of films work.

For example, I didn’t find it all that atmospheric; I didn’t care much for the characters (or about them!); and, probably worst of all, something about it just felt like it was supposed to have a coherent narrative. It’s tough to explain, but for some reason, the lack of connectedness felt unintentional (I don’t know if it was or not; it just felt that way), so the whole thing simply fell flat for me.

On top of that, the second act of He’s Watching also has a bit of a “been there, done that” kind of feel to it, so even when the narrative starts to make a little more sense, it’s just not very interesting. Most notably, it has a bunch of generic haunted house scares, there are a few moments that seem like they were ripped straight out of Benson and Moorhead’s debut feature Resolution, and there’s even a brief sequence at about the midway point that feels like a riff on the video from The Ring.

A girl with a red face

To be fair, this part of He’s Watching does have a handful of cool shots, but even then, the movie ruins most of them by moving on to something else (and usually something completely unrelated) much too quickly. It just never sustains any momentum, so while it does have its moments, they’re way too few and far between.

When we get to the third act, the film eventually does settle down and starts to give us a coherent narrative, and I have to say, it’s actually not bad. In particular, it builds up a bit of mythology for its evil spirit, it has a handful of cool horror moments, and the movie’s two young stars get to flex their acting muscles in ways the first two-thirds of the movie never allowed them to do.

Unfortunately, though, this is way too little way too late. Kind of like The Passenger and Dashcam, by the time I got to the “good stuff” in this movie, I had completely lost interest in the characters and their story, so nothing in this third act had much of an impact on me. It felt like little more than visual noise, and even though I was able to appreciate it from an objective standpoint, it just didn’t do anything for me as a fan.

So at the end of the day, I’m sad to say that I can’t recommend He’s Watching. While it has its moments, the good in it is far outweighed by the bad. At best, you might want to give it a watch to check out its two young leads, as they’re both way better than your typical child actors. Granted, this movie doesn’t allow them to showcase a ton of talent, but they did a pretty good job with the material they were given. However, aside from that, I’d suggest passing on this film and giving something else a shot if you’re looking for some good new horror to watch.

He’s Watching hits VOD on July 21.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

The Undying Influence of Nosferatu’s Count Orlok

Women clothed in traditional garb

The Criterion Collection Unveils Its Horror-Centric October Releases