Observer (2022) Movie Review - What Did I Just Watch?

Horror | 70 Min
Observer (2022) Horror Movie Review
  • Director: Stephen Sander
  • Actors: Jennifer Chalamov, Amy Taaffe, Filip Zivanovic, A.J. Popoff, Kenzie Rigel
  • Writers: Stephen Sander
  • Producers: Stephen Sander
  • Country: Canada
  • Language: English
  • Parental: Violence, Language
  • Horror | 70 Min

A group of demons lay claim to a troubled youth while a good natured spirit fights to defend her

Welcome to Knockout Horror and to a fairly quick fire horror movie review. We watched and, surprisingly, enjoyed quaint found footage horror Life of Belle a couple of days ago. For those of you who don’t know, the movie was distributed completely free on the Terror Films YouTube channel. Pretty cool, eh? 

Terror Films pick up lesser known independent horror movies and offer them up to the public completely free. This is an idea I can get behind so I decided I would start checking out some of their catalogue. It just so happens that they had only just added a brand new movie when I went to pick something to watch. That movie is Observer!

Free Horror, What’s Not to Love?

So a quick flick through the comments section of the video shows a bunch of people who probably worked on the movie. Most seem excited to see that the movie has its release and a few people relate their anticipation. I’m not sure why people don’t comment after watching but, whatever, I am not the YouTube comment police.

Observer (2022) Horror Movie Review

The only real comment of particular note is this one by user lukesharp5641 which reads “Terrible movie……One or two effective jump scares but story is wack”. Okay, so that isn’t exactly glowing but everyone is entitled to their opinion, right? Let’s throw the movie on and check it out. After all, it is free and it can’t be all that bad, can it?

Well, Not Really! But WTF?

Observer was a trip. Full disclosure, I was tired as hell when I put this movie on. My fiancée didn’t want to sleep yet so I bargained with her that we would chill with a horror before hitting the hay. The only prerequisites for the film? It has to be short. That’s all and it just so happens that Observer perfectly fit the bill at a scant 70 minutes. With credits that is probably only slightly over an hour. Perfect!

What a mistake that was. Those 70 minutes feels like three hours. From the moment the movie kicks off you are bombarded with abstract shots and a lot of noise beamed directly into the back of your head. Disconnected scenes of angels arguing with bizarrely voiced demon ladies battle against real world scenes of violence and gang warfare. All while a vague story attempts to work its way to the forefront against a tide of religious scripture and atypical camera work. 

Tough to Review

It’s a lot. Especially when you are tired. It’s actually to the point where I am not quite sure how to critique the movie. It feels like one of those Skinamarink situations where you know some people are going to absolutely hate it but you can appreciate what the director was going for.

The story follows a troubled girl who finds herself, and her younger brother, kidnapped by a group of human traffickers who she has been working for. The brother appears to have a guardian angel who now has to argue for the salvation of the girl and battle for the pair’s survival.

Observer (2022) Horror Movie Review

It’s a classic tale of good vs evil, I suppose, and much of the movie focuses on the angel’s attempts to rationalise the complexity of the girl’s situation in order to justify her salvation. You know, given the fact that she is recruiting victims for human traffickers and all.

It Doesn’t Quite Work

A lot of that doesn’t come across particularly clearly, though, as the story is portrayed in something of an abstract manner. We see a brief moment of current day happenings that is quickly contrasted against a scene of the guardian angel discussing the character’s impending fates. It sort of reminded me of a long form version of the music video to the Shakespears Sister song Stay. It’s quite strange and the best way I could describe it is as being rather ambitious. 

Maybe a little too ambitious given the clearly low budget. The filming techniques employed don’t fit the format particularly well and the chaotic editing lends Observer more of a messy feel than anything. Washed out shots that shake manically quickly grow old and the overuse of mid 2000’s horror tropes don’t offer much new on the scare front. 

Observer (2022) Horror Movie Review

Director Stephen Sander’s scope is almost too much for the filming techniques and editing to withstand. With a more experienced team behind it, Observer might have worked quite well. But, as it stands, it just feels like a barrage of disconnected images and noise fired at you without rhyme or reason. The story is tough to follow and that is a significant barrier for entry. It is one of those movies that will take a few viewings to appreciate and I am just not sure that most people will be willing to afford it that. 

I Appreciate The Effort

That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the effort, though. A lot of creativity has gone into this movie and it has its moments. I can’t imagine the amount of work and planning that went into storyboarding for it. There is a pace to the film that is really quite impressive. With Sander never lingering on a single shot for any more than a few seconds. It is chaotic and unrelenting in its delivery.

The somewhat different approach to story telling deserves some praise, as well. Despite how much it will likely confuse some viewers. Observer is admirably unique against a backdrop of low budget found footage movies and DIY slashers. The story is fairly nuanced and the way it is presented is nothing if not different. I honestly think there are people out there that will really enjoy this movie. I think there is an audience for it and I think a lot of horror fans will appreciate just how different it feels.

Observer (2022) Horror Movie Review

It is worth mentioning that Observer isn’t a scary movie. I don’t know where the couple of jump scares were that the above commenter pointed out were as I don’t remember any such moments. Acting is okay with Jennifer Chalamov standing out most as the guardian angel. The characters here aren’t exactly developed, though, so acting takes something of a backseat.

Final Thoughts and Score

Observer is a tough movie to rate. I appreciate what the director was going for and I admire the unique method of story telling and the unrelenting pace. But I just can’t see it appealing to a wide audience. The scope outpaces the delivery leading to a story that feels confusing and messy and a visual presentation that can seem more like an onslaught rather than a keenly put together picture. A part of me wants to rate it higher due to the ambition but I am just not sure whether it works. Maybe I will watch again in the future and update the review but until then it is a bit of a tough recommend.

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