Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
They’re Watching: Moldova’s Rustic Charm
best thing about Moldova is its not Belarus. It is the only former Soviet
Republic that remains dominated by the Communists. Naturally, the Party
understands Moldovans are not interested in passing fads like human rights or
economic development. Nobody wants to suggest the country is stuck in the past,
but their last recorded witch burning was in the early 1900s—not so very long
ago in Moldovan time. They might be gearing up for another thanks to a
blundering reality television crew in Micah Wright & Jay Lender’s They’re Watching (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in select theaters.
a previous episode of Home Hunters Global,
expatriate American artist Becky Westlake and her reluctant Euro football star
Goran Pitsnik bought the mother of all fixer-uppers in the picturesque Moldovan
countryside. That was the “before” segment. Now the crew is back to do the “after”
follow-up. Brand new production assistant Sarah Ellroy has come with cameraman
Greg Abernathy and Alex Torini, the acerbic stoner sound guy to do the advance
work before Kate Banks, their hostess-on-wheels arrives. Unfortunately, they quickly
antagonize the locals through a series of misunderstandings, as when they are
caught accidentally filming a funeral.
try to patch things up with vodka, but when Ellroy cracks a witch joke it goes
over like an editorial mildly critical of the government. Nobody is amused. By
the time Banks and crew reach start shooting in Westlake’s spectacularly
refurbished farm house, there is a group of pitchfork-wielding villagers
ominously milling about outside.
They’re Watching is not so aptly
titled, but it is still one of the funniest horror comedies in years. Clearly,
Wright & Lender have spent plenty of time in production conferences and
editorial meetings. Anyone who has worked in media of any kind will feel they
know these characters already. Their dialogue is rude, caustic, and uproarious.
it helps that Kris Lemche’s Torini is a riffing machine. However, Mia Faith also
holds up her sarcastic end as Ellroy, the boss’s bombshell daughter. As
Vladimir Filat, the realtor who keeps tagging along, Dimitri Diatchenko (a
classical guitarist) creates a character that is one part Yakov Smirnoff and
one part Sickboy from Trainspotting. Similarly
eschewing subtly, Carrie Genzel is spectacularly shrewish as Banks, whereas Brigid
Brannagh really gets to chew on some serious scenery down the stretch as
Watching probably will not get the Criterion treatment anytime soon, but
its relentlessly sardonic black humor and frenetic energy level are quite
impressive. It is shamelessly entertaining, like all horror comedies ought to
be. Recommended for genre fans without any embarrassment or self-consciousness,
They’re Watching opens tomorrow
(3/25) in New York, at the Cinema Village.
Labels: Horror Movies, Moldova