Apparently today is the day for movies that remind me of other movies (...actually this one reminded me of a book that a movie is based on, which is funny seeing as Watch Out is itself based on a book).
I don't know if I'd necessarily say I'm a fan of Steve Balderson. I rather like Pep Squad (the acting is stiff and awkward but, honestly, I like to believe that was deliberate; it's a dark comedy about high school and murder, why shouldn't the acting feel like a stereotypical high school play?) but the only things that save Firecracker for me are the visuals (there's a shot of a brightly lit, brightly colored carnival in the middle of a drab black and white town that blows me away every time) and the presences of Mike Patton and Karen Black (both in dual roles).
Based on those two movies, I'm going to have to say Steve Balderson's work is hit-or-miss for me, but I'll watch pretty much anything he directs (although I have to say Stuck! does not interest me).
I've wanted to see Watch Out ever since I heard that it has a "love it or hate it" reputation. I don't know what it is about polarizing movies that intrigues me so. Maybe I just want to know which pole I live at.
In Watch Out's case, neither.
I liked Watch Out, but I didn't love it and I certainly didn't hate it. Like the other two Balderson movies I've seen, I had to figure out its groove and get used to what it is before I really formed an opinion one way or the other at all.
If you have a hard time with explicit sexuality in movies (selfcest in particular), steer clear of this one. (Explicit sexuality in movies is another polarizing thing that I don't really care about one way or the other. If it's there, it's there. If not, I don't miss it. But I'd imagine watching Watch Out with people would be rather uncomfortable.)
Watch Out is the story of Jonathan Barrows, a narcissist. That's pretty much it. He's in love with himself, which the movie likes to illustrate a lot, and he hates everybody else, which is obvious whenever he speaks to another character. The first act is mostly sex and the (comparitively short) second act is mostly violence.
And here's where the "hey, this reminds me of..." comes in. Most of Watch Out, just like all of American Psycho (the book and to a lesser extent, the movie), is told through the main character's narcissistic, self centered, sex obsessed, hate filled monologues. Every character who isn't Jonathan Barrow is painted as disgusting because that's how he sees them, just like how Patrick Bateman is disgusted by everybody who isn't rich (and everyone who is rich, for that matter).
Watch Out and American Psycho are kindred spirits, which is probably why I fall more toward the positive pole when it comes to Watch Out. It reminds me of a thing I already like, but not in a "I wish I was watching that instead" way, like with the Mother's Day / House Of 1000 Corpses comparison.
The end of Act One (each act is announced with title cards) and the transition to Act Two are sort of weird and jarring, and Act Two made me question how much of Act One really happened. The timeline was confusing. But I'm not going to complain about that because I actually kind of liked it. Sometimes it's fun to not know what's going on.
I'd really like to read the book Watch Out was based on. Too bad it seems to be pretty hard to find.
There is a scene where Barrows is in a restaurant and orders some food. Then we sit and watch him while he waits. That's it. Stuff goes on in the background, some cheesy muzak plays and we watch in real time as he sits and does nothing and waits for his oysters. It was the funniest scene in the movie, and it's the scene that sort of knocked me in the head and explained to me "this is a work of vulgar absurdism."
I happen to like absurdism.
End of line.