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I’ll Be Watching (2023) Review

As I’ll Be Watching opens, Julie (Eliza Taylor, The 100, Patrick: Evil Awakens) is having a terrible day. Her husband Marcus (Bob Morley, The 100, Road Kill) is having problems with connecting flights and is going to miss the showing of her latest paintings. Even worse, her sister Rebecca (Hannah Fierman, Dead by Midnight (11pm Central), Evil Little Things) goes to Julie’s apartment to give her cat Pepper her meds, while she’s there she’s killed by an intruder.

Months later, Julie is still suffering from guilt over her death and lets herself be pressured into moving to a new home in the middle of nowhere by Marcus and their therapist Dr. Tate (Bryan Batt, Don’t Look Back, Mad Men). They tell her not living in the place where her sister died should help her recover. Marcus can work from home, so she won’t be alone, and the high-tech security system he’s developing, Hera, will be guarding their new home. Given it was also guarding their apartment when Rebecca was murdered, that doesn’t make her feel much better.

I'll Be Watching

Of course, they’re no sooner moved in than Marcus’ vow to work from home falls to the wayside, he has to go to Hong Kong for a week to meet with investors. He’ll be in constant contact, and Hera can keep the house secure, what could possibly go wrong?

Director Erik Bernard (Free Dead or Alive, The Place We Hide) and writers Elisa Manzini (It Hits You When You Know It, Bio Filter) and Sara Sometti Michaels (St. Agatha, The Doll Maker) pack the first act of I’ll Be Watching with so many clichés that viewers will be suffering from déjà vu. Survivor’s guilt, a woman alone in the middle of nowhere, psychological issues exacerbated by pills and booze, a marriage on the rocks, nightmares, etc. It’s actually impressive in a negative sort of way.

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Needless to say, as soon as Julie is alone she starts hearing, or thinks she hears, somebody in the house. A repairman tells her the house’s previous owner mysteriously disappeared. And, of course, Pepper meets a horrible fate. By the time an unknown caller is sending footage of her sister’s murder to her phone, it’s easy to see where I’ll Be Watching is heading.

None of this is remotely suspenseful, and I’ll Be Watching manages to generate almost no tension. There is a little in the last few minutes when Julie is finally “trapped in the house with a killer” and the script throws a couple of not-very-unique twists at the viewer, but that’s about all it can work up.

Even the leads can’t seem to work up much enthusiasm for the film. I want to believe that Taylor is giving such a bland performance because Julie is supposed to be out of it on wine and painkillers most of the time. Morley provides some mystery as you wonder if he’s telegraphing his character’s guilt or playing it so obvious because he’s a red herring. In a brief role as Sheriff Anderson, David Keith (An Officer and a Gentleman, Christian Mingle) just looks bored.

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It might have helped if there was a bigger cast to provide for more interactions. Julie spends much of the film alone talking to Hera’s disembodied voice or to someone on the phone. That includes Marcus for much of the film as well. More characters might also have made it a lot easier to keep the audience guessing.

Worst of all, for what is supposed to be a pivotal character, Hera is incredibly bland showing none of the personality or potential for destruction that the title AI in Margaux displayed. Even her ancestors such as Demon Seed’s Proteus and 2001’s HAL showed more personality. But that’s fitting for a film so bland, even ChatGPT could have written something with more punch to it.

Uncork’d Entertainment will release I’ll Be Watching to Digital Platforms on May 2nd, but there’s really no reason for you to be watching. And if you would rather be watching something else, FilmTagger can offer some suggestions.

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