Found footage horror is a tired genre that needs some serious wheel inventing to get anywhere now. Fortunately, They’re Watching, from Nickelodeon veterans Micah Wright and Jay Lender, is looking to give it a fresh spin.
Releasing March 25 in theaters and on demand, They’re Watching is about the crew of a reality TV home makeover show following a young couple buying a house in an Eastern European village. No shit it goes bad. After ticking off the superstitious locals, the crew becomes the target of the village’s wrath and must survive and escape or face permanent cancellation.
Inspired by a grim outlook of HGTV and reality shows like House Hunters, directors Wright and Lender — who previously worked in children’s animation like SpongeBob SquarePants, The Angry Beavers, and video games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II — decided to pursue the idea as a full-fledged film.
“[O]ne day we thought ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be hilarious if everything went terribly wrong? Like if the film crew came back six months later, and the locals despised the American home buyer, hated the show’s crew for bringing her to their small village, and then tried to murder them all?’ So, yeah, we made that movie,” the filmmakers said in a press release.
Unlike modern found footage horror, which have more recently become dark spins on reality shows — 2014’s Inner Demons was based on the director’s work on Intervention — They’re Watching is a more lighthearted approach to the genre. It’s not a parody, but it’s also not trying to recreate Blair Witch either.
“We feel too many [horror movies] serve up ingenious deaths for cardboard characters,” says the filmmakers, “so instead we put our efforts into making characters you love. We encouraged … to improvise and build upon our script until each character became a living, breathing person you care about. You won’t be wondering how they’re going to die — you’ll be hoping they won’t.”
They’re Watching comes out March 25 in theaters and on demand.