The Watch February 10, 2011Posted by Rusty in 25-29, the watch.
I know that this is kind of a “duh” statement from someone who reviews Lifetime movies, but LIFETIME HORROR MOVIES ARE SO GREAT!
The Watch starts with an eight-year-old girl getting abducted in the dead of night by a creepy Ring lady in a white asylum gown. She’s kept in a basement for two days before being rescued so she develops a phobia of being alone in the dark. More of a fear than a phobia, since phobias are irrational by definition. This seems rational to me. I should be afraid of spiders because I was thrown into a spider pit, not because I had a bad dream in second grade. Clearly this lady, Cassie, gets a pass.
Nineteen years later, Cassie is a grad student writing her thesis on children suffering from PTSD. But she is having trouble! And her man crazy roommate with an insanely low voice isn’t helping. I mean, how do you finish a thesis and get over a crippling fear of being alone at the same time? Obviously you take a 30-day job isolated in a cabin in the middle of the woods to serve as a firewatch. What could possibly go wrong?
Cassie’s boss is named Rhett and oh my God how obvious is it that he’s a bad guy. Anytime a dude sneaks up on a vulnerable lady, even if it’s by accident, you know you’re in for some trouble. He gives her a tour, shows her the ropes, and steals her cell phone. He has her sign some job forms (this is the point where I figured out one of the big plot twists), and she buckles down for 30 days of thesis writing and fire watching. Oh, and there’s another lady there sneaking around.
After a rough first night, aided by an encouraging tape recording left by her roommate (along with bourbon and what is suggested to be a vibrator but turns out to be a harmonica), Cassie really seems to be getting the hang of things. Then one night someone is fucking around with the water pump and she sees a face in the woods. Freak out time! Thankfully, a woman named Polly answers the radio. Polly’s in a watch station eight miles east. She shines a light (Overrrrr the firewatch east!*) and, yay, Cassie has a buddy.
*Most strained Rocky Horror reference ever? Yes.
Despite being warned by the evil man, Rhett, that she only has one spare walkie-talkie battery, Cassie spends the next five days chatting on the radio with Polly. They’re playing chess and talking about how hard it is to be a neurotic female in this big, bad, man’s world. Cassie is clearly being fucked with and shame on her for not figuring this out.
Rhett comes by with more walkie-talkie batteries and they have a nice stroll through the woods. She tells him about her abduction and he responds by walking her past a watch station that was burnt to the ground. It was lit up by a former watchman named Polly who went mad from the isolation! She killed herself in the fire! And she haunts these woods!
Cassie doesn’t find that very funny and quits. But she’ll stay an extra two nights to allow Rhett to find a replacement. So Polly, who of course looks exactly like the woman who abducted Cassie 19 years ago, goes on the attack. And because the cabin is outfitted with a bunch of crappy cameras, it looks like The Ring. Finally Polly walks into the cabin and Cassie cowers in fear. Hey, Cassie, you’re like 27. Throw a fucking punch.
She follows my advice! WHAM! Right to the kisser!
Oh. I should probably mention that the school’s guidance counselors had called Cassie’s apartment. Her baritone roomie, Andrea, pretends to be Cassie and finds out that someone had stolen Cassie’s case file. Andrea calls the Park Rangers and discovers that they don’t use firewatches so late in the season. And when she drives down to rescue Cassie, she recognizes Rhett from Facebook stalking dudes she wants to bone. He’s a grad student too.
That’s the plot twist I figured out in the first 15 minutes. Cassie was being used as a psych patient for her colleagues’ theses. Those employment documents were really consent forms! The cabin was under constant surveillance. That’s not how contracts work, but, ok! Anyways, Rhett has a change of heart, grabs the contracts, and throws them in the fire. Cassie agrees not to press charges if all the evidence of her breakdown is destroyed.
This is when I figured out plot twist #2. Why are there 15 minutes left in this movie?
Oh, Jesus Christ.
So the lady thesis writer-slash-forest ghost admits that she was Polly on the radio…but only Polly for some of the time! They just cribbed a real local legend of a real ghost. All that “neurotic women of the world unite!” and playing chess bullshit was just her imagination.
Here is why this doesn’t make sense: In the next two minutes it will be established that other people can hear Ghost Polly. It’s not just Cassie. And the cabin was under constant surveillance. So wouldn’t the bad grad student have been all, “HOLY SHIT!”
So, yeah, after all the bad guys leave, Ghost Polly starts talking to Cassie and Andrea through an unplugged radio. Then Andrea’s phone rings and I wish I could describe the nonchalance in how Andrea answers it. There is all this spooky shit going down and Andrea just could not give a shit. “Hey! I have service up here!”
So of course by answering the phone, Andrea is possessed by Polly. Her skin turns all purple and blistery and her voice actually sounds like an adult woman’s. CGI fire keeps shooting out of the fireplace. Cassie uses her psych skills to convince the poltergeist that it’s time to move on to the next step where she’ll never be alone. That works and Polly leaves Andrea’s body.
So riddle me this: WHY IS THE LAST SCENE IN THE MOVIE POLLY TORTURING SOME UNSEEN FIREWATCH WITH FIRE AND WIND!? I THOUGHT SHE MOVED ON!
And if you think that ending is bad, wait until you hear about the penultimate scene. Cassie turns in her thesis, meets Rhett – her tormenter and borderline kidnapper – and they start making out in the hallway. Let that sink in.
I’ll admit this movie made me jump twice. That happened. Props.
This movie was a sometimes effective, mostly ridiculous ripoff of The Ring. And don’t let anyone tell you differently: The Ring is terrible. But then the last 15 minutes are just off the chain, ya’ll. The bad guy is the prime romantic interest! Possession! CGI! YES YES YES!
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 3
Cassie is played by Clea DuVall. According to Wikipedia, she is not related to actors Robert Duvall or Shelley Duvall. Good to know!
Kate loves Clea DuVall for being “freckly and gay.” Kate also admits that she doesn’t know if Clea DuVall is really gay and she chooses not to know for sure. So don’t spoil that for her.
I do not understand how anyone could love Clea DuVall. Anyone involved in Heroes gets demerits. Considering an exception for Hayden Panettiere’s Amanda Knox movie. Can’t wait. Can’t Hardly Wait. Clea DuVall was in that. Full circle. Good paragraph, Rusty.
A total lack of women’s intuition and the protagonist getting together with the bad guy deserve serious demerits, but, I’m still giving this a seven? Why? Because there is only one network that would ever show this movie. And that network is Lifetime. It might not be a paint-by-the-numbers deal, but it is unmistakably a Lifetime movie.
GRAND TOTAL: 26
I watched this with a head cold while sipping on chicken soup. I can only imagine how much fun this would be if you were, say, drunk.