Sunday, October 09, 2016

Someone's Watching Me!

Written and directed by John Carpenter, Someone’s Watching Me! is the story of a live-TV director dealing with a stalker who has been at her apartment and leaving gifts prompting her to take action. The TV movie is a suspense-horror film that play into the world of voyeurism as well as what someone will do to deal with being watched. Starring Lauren Hutton, Adrienne Barbeau, David Birney, and Charles Cyphers. Someone’s Watching Me! is a riveting yet chilling TV movie from John Carpenter.

Set in Los Angeles, the film is the simple story of a woman who arrives to the city as she receives mysterious presents and phone calls from an unknown person where she realizes she is being stalked. It’s a film with a simple premise as it’s largely set inside a penthouse apartment as this woman named Leigh (Lauren Hutton) tries to start a new life but has become a target as she tries to ignore it and move on. John Carpenter’s teleplay maintains the simplicity in the story while also making Leigh a very complex character that strays from many of the conventions of horror and suspense. Leigh doesn’t start off as someone who will become vulnerable but as the presents and messages she receives become more chilling. She gets worried as she seeks the help of her new boyfriend Paul (David Birney) and co-worker Sophie (Adrienne Barbeau) where they would try to uncover things about the stalker. There would be some wrong turns and other things yet it all plays into who is the stalker and what is that person doing.

Carpenter’s direction is definitely mesmerizing not just for the simplicity of some of his compositions but also in how he manages to keep things engaging while playing with the many rhythms of suspense and horror. While much of the film is set in the apartment with some of it shot in some of the different locations in and around Los Angeles. Carpenter does create that sense of disturbance that looms in the film as well as maintain the mystery of who is watching Leigh and making these phone calls. Even in his approach to dolly shots, zooms, and how he would move the camera play into some of the drama but also in maintain that air of suspense. One key scene that is crucial in the film is where Leigh tries to meet her stalker as there is that sense of fear that is prominent in the film where Carpenter uses a nice close-up to play into the suspense.

The usage of the medium and wide shots help add to that suspense where there are moments where the camera shows the perspective of the stalker where he watches and listens to any of Leigh’s conversations. Carpenter also uses moments of misdirection to play up the suspense where an audience think will something happen but then nothing or a misunderstanding which is key to what makes the film work. Especially in the climax as it shows who is this person that is stalking Leigh and what has he been doing where it is quite chilling but it is also riveting as it has Leigh finally confronting her stalker. Overall, Carpenter creates a thrilling yet engrossing film about a woman being stalked from the other building of her apartment.

Cinematographer Robert B. Hauser does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography as its usage of shadows and light help play to some of the suspense in scenes where Leigh‘s apartment would go through power surges as well as some of the scenes set at night. Editor Richard Korbitz does nice work with the editing as it‘s largely straightforward with some rhythmic cut and fade-outs for commercial break transitions. Art director Philip Barber and set decorator Donald J. Sullivan do fantastic work with the look of Leigh‘s penthouse apartment as well as the TV studio she works at. Sound mixer Don Rush does terrific work with the sound as it help play into the suspense with its usage of sparse noise. The film’s music by Harry Sukman is superb for its orchestral-based score as it has some dramatic bombast as well as some eerie pieces to play into its suspense.

The film’s brilliant cast feature some notable small roles from Grainger Hines as a co-worker at the TV station, Len Lasser as a mysterious man in the apartment, and Charles Cyphers in a terrific role as police investigator Gary Hunt who is a friend of Paul as he tries to figure things out. Adrienne Barbeau is fantastic as Sophie as a co-worker who helps Leigh in trying to find the stalker as well as figure out all of the scenarios. David Birney is excellent as Paul as Leigh’s new boyfriend who is a philosophy professor that tries to figure out all of the angles but also go to those that he knew who could help Leigh. Finally, there’s Lauren Hutton in an amazing performance as Leigh as this live-TV director who becomes the victim of harassment through an unseen stalker as she tries to figure who is stalking her as Hutton displays a vulnerability but also a willingness to fight back.

Someone’s Watching Me! is a remarkable TV film from John Carpenter that features a riveting performance from Lauren Hutton. Featuring a great supporting cast and a unique premise, it’s a TV movie that manages to be very engaging in its approach to suspense as well as do things that most TV movies wouldn’t do in its approach to suspense/horror narratives. In the end, Someone’s Watching Me! is a marvelous film from John Carpenter.

John Carpenter Films: Dark Star - Assault on Precinct 13 - Halloween - Elvis - The Fog - Escape from New York - The Thing - Christine - Starman - Big Trouble in Little China - Prince of Darkness - They Live - Memoirs of an Invisible Man - Body Bags - In the Mouth of Madness - Village of the Damned (1995 film) - Escape from L.A. - Vampires - Ghosts of Mars - The Ward

The Auteurs #60: John Carpenter Part 1 - Part 2

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