In Paradise Heights on Hallowe’en everyone is watching… looking out for whoever or whatever is round the next corner. Those braving the streets are eyeballed by masked gangs, or a figure lurking in the shadowy half light.
Filmed in the dark streets of Manchester and Salford, The Watcher has a pervading atmosphere of menace which is sustained throughout. From the taxi driver’s uncertainty about starting his shift, to a little girl playing with her toys at her bedroom window and the angry and frightened callers to a late-night local radio phone-in. Dialogue is spare; the phone-in provides commentary to set the scene of fear and intimidation on a whole estate, and an increasingly fraught and anxious conversation under a railway arch becomes a disturbingly intense monologue.
The darkness of the film is balanced with some rich bursts of colour – the orange and red lights of the cityscape opening sequence, the homeless man’s piercing blue eyes against his ravaged face and the ethereal glow of the watching figure.
The Watcher builds with a series of questions begging for answers; who is the smoking man waiting for? Who is Frank Morgan and why is everyone scared of him? What is it that terrifies the taxi driver on the dark open road?
Everyone’s watching. A mother watches over her little girl playing at her window. The little girl watches for her father. The gangs watch the comings and goings on the estate and decide which car to break into next. And Frank Morgan, well, he’s always watching…
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For more Mancunian menace, watch more from Paradise Heights: