Maika Monroe: Stalker thriller ‘Watcher’ portrays ‘part of being a woman’

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Maika Monroe returns to the horror genre with “Watcher.” File photo by Chris Chew/UPI | License picture

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 22 (UPI) — Maika Monroe said her new film Observer, which premiered virtually Friday at the Sundance Film Festival, reflects a very common experience for women.

Monroe, 28, plays Julia, a woman who moves to Romania with her husband, Francis (Karl Glusman), and believes a man (Burn Gorman) across the street is watching her.

“I immediately reached out to Julia and what she was going through,” Monroe told UPI in a Zoom interview. “I think a lot of people who watch this will understand.”

Julia sees the man watching from his window. When she meets him in public, Julia begins to suspect that he is following her.

Unfortunately, Francis isn’t entirely supportive. He tries to explain their meetings as a coincidence and at one point calls her hysterical.

Monroe said having a loved one not believe her is the most relevant experience. Monroe said she felt isolated when people she confided in didn’t believe her.

“What I’ve connected to the most is when someone doesn’t believe you or tells you that you’re overreacting or being dramatic,” Monroe said.

Appearing in movies and on TV since 2009, Monroe said she’s used to having fans recognize her. However, she still has times when she is alone and unsure of the intentions of the people around her.

“I walked down the street and put my car key between my fingers because I’m afraid there’s someone behind me,” Monroe said. “It’s just part of being a woman that’s unhappy.”

Monroe’s mother first taught her to be guarded in public. Monroe said she remembered the lesson her mother taught her on her trip to Europe and South America when Monroe was a child.

“She just said, ‘As women, we travel alone. We don’t have a man here. We have to be extra careful,” Monroe said. “I always remember that. It was just ingrained in my head when I was young.”

Monroe’s Breakthrough Horror Film It follows, also involved a form of prosecution. Monroe said both Observer and It follows reflect characters struggling to convince people that their pursuers are real.

“It’s a simple and relevant idea,” Monroe said. “But it’s such a great way to tell that story through a genre film.”

In It follows, teenagers were chased by ghosts who slowly approached them. They could delay the chase by sleeping with someone and passing on the spirits to them.

The followers never left. The teenagers could only put distance between themselves and the followers by transmitting the curse to others via sex.

Monroe was in her early twenties when she did It follows. Monroe said that eight plus years of long-term relationships later, she can relate to different aspects of Observer.

“At the end of the day, I’m a woman and he’s a man and there are some things he’ll never understand,” Monroe said. “I had not really lived this experience during the filming It follows.”

It follows was also mentioned in the recent Scream sequel as an example of “high horror” that the killer is not a fan of. Monroe said she didn’t see Scream but her friend informed her that her film was essential enough to be part of the self-referential series.

“It’s pretty cool, I have to say,” Monroe said.

Horror was part of Monroe’s life before starring in horror movies. Monroe said she and her college friends would watch the brilliant and John Carpenter films at sleepovers.

Monroe said these films allowed her to experience dangers she had not previously experienced.

“It was feelings I had never had before, running for my life or being in these horrible situations,” Monroe said.

Monroe said she starred in movies like Observer and It follows, as good as The guest and Bad guys, allows him to live these experiences even more vividly. However, Monroe said, they are not easy.

“I think that’s probably one of the hardest genres to film as an actor,” Monroe said. “It’s physically and mentally demanding beyond anything I’ve had to do.”

While Observer begins as a relatable stalker drama, the film also escalates like many of Monroe’s previous efforts.

“Horror makes every day feel like a challenge because every day I’m going to run for my life or cry or scream,” Monroe said. “It’s challenging but it’s also so rewarding.”

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