Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bella Thorne, Ioan Gruffudd, Natalie Martinez, Chandler Riggs, Leigh Whannell, Matthew Willig, Christopher James Baker, Jared Abrahamson
Written by: Joseph Dembner
Directed by: Sean Carter
MPAA Rating: R for violence, terror, some language and brief drug use
Running Time: 89
Date: 10/31/2017

Keep Watching (2017)

1 Star (out of 4)

Stop 'Watching'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This horror-thriller uses its dozens (hundreds?) of hidden cameras as a gimmick, which constantly distracts from the story; yet the story and themes are absurdly thin. It's all practically pointless.

In Keep Watching, the Mitchell family — widowed father Adam (Ioan Gruffudd), his new girlfriend Olivia (Natalie Martinez), his teen daughter Jamie (Bella Thorne), and younger son DJ (Chandler Riggs) — arrives home. Little do they know that their house is now riddled with tiny, hidden cameras, the modus operandi of a group of vicious killers, who upload videos their savage deeds for people to watch.

Uncle Matt (Leigh Whannell) also drops by, and while he's investigating a mysterious occurrence, he's taken out. More nasty attacks happen, and before long, the survivors are hiding in the basement, looking for a way out. But, did the killers plan this whole thing all along? And what is their ultimate goal?

Keep Watching was withheld from critics and released for one night only, Halloween, before its home debut (sympathies to those who spent their October 31 watching it). It's flawed to its very core. The killers' only motive seems to be to get online views, and the movie is not smart enough to comment upon this in any meaningful way. The final "twist" doesn't even have anything to do with this theme (and doesn't make sense).

Meanwhile, the bad guys magically seem to have a camera for every occasion, and every conceivable angle. They even have a moving camera on tracks, mounted under a table, for the time that Jamie ducks under there, looking for an escape. Moreover, someone appears to either be editing all this footage on the fly, or at least edited it after the fact. (Who?)

After all this framework, the characters at the center don't offer much to care about; they mostly argue and think about themselves. It doesn't even seem to matter much when any of them are brutally murdered. This ought to be called "Stop Watching".

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