Watch Me (2007)

An e-mail drops into your inbox with an attachment labelled "watch me." When it starts playing, you're treated to some horrific footage of a woman being murdered. And as soon as it's finished, the lights in your house flicker off, you hear footsteps, and lo and behold, the woman from the video is suddenly, inexplicably, standing right in front of you -- and she's not in a good mood.

Sound horribly familiar? Yeah, I can hear the groans from here.

Watch Me is, essentially, a mash-up of Ju-on, Ring, and Kairo. Except that the girl in the videos has long red hair, instead of long black hair, and she's wearing a bright yellow dress instead of a white one.

Um, and that's pretty much all that's different. You watch the video, you die; lather, rinse, repeat, ad nauseum. Most of the scares in the first half of the movie are identical to those from one version of Ju-on/The Grudge or other, and there's already about 3948948398493 of those movies without anyone other than Takashi Shimizu having a go. It's shot on video, too, so while it's a perfectly proficient student film, it's really far too derivative and amateurish to be taken seriously by anyone else.

That seems a little cruel, so I'll qualify it: the makers aren't entirely without talent. But they need to develop their own ideas, rather than just replicating established scary movie tropes. There's one interesting twist in Watch Me that isn't present in any of the preceding movies (that I'm aware of, anyway), in that you only die if you actually enjoy the snuff movie. That makes the woman's punishment make a little more sense. Also, the movie's 'Freak Boy' character is an obsessive film student type with an archive of rare pornography from around the world who schemes to make a profit from selling Watch Me. Sadly, this thread doesn't go anywhere. There's a shimmering glimpse of a good idea here, before it got buried under a ton of cliché and laziness, which is pretty unfortunate.

Better luck next time, guys.

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