Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s psychological thriller Watcher is set to have its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January. Directed by the award-winning writer/director Chloe Okuno, the film stars Maika Monroe (It Follows), Karl Glusman (Nocturnal Animals) and Burn Gorman (Enola Holmes).
Filmed on location in Romania, Watcher follows a young married couple as they move into a new apartment together in Bucharest, just as a citywide panic is brewing over a possible serial killer on the loose. Julia (Monroe), who finds herself isolated in her new surroundings, becomes increasingly tormented by the belief that she is being stalked by an unseen watcher in the adjacent building.
Director Chloe Okuno said: ‘I am incredibly honored to have my first feature-length film premiere at Sundance. This was an amazing project to work on and I am so pleased Watcher is getting this wonderful platform for its world premiere.’
The film, which will compete in the US dramatic competition at the festival, is a co-production between the Academy Award-winning Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Spooky Pictures, the low-budget genre label formed by producers Steven Schneider (Insidious, Split, Pet Sematary) and Roy Lee (It, The Ring, The Strangers).
Steven Schneider said: ‘Working with Chloe, the incredible cast, crew and production team, we always believed Watcher had tremendous potential. For us to receive recognition from Sundance is an incredible moment for us and we look forward to seeing audience’s reactions.’
The announcement follows the release of Image Nation & AGC International’s co-production Al Kameen, which is breaking box-office records in the UAE.
Chief Content Officer of Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Ben Ross, said: “We are extremely proud of this project and Sundance will provide the perfect platform for this exceptional film to premiere to the world. Watcher is another example of Image Nation’s international co-productions pioneering Abu Dhabi’s film industry and we look forward to seeing this project’s continued success.”
Watcher is based an original spec by tyro screenwriter Zack Ford and, in addition to Lee and Schneider, is produced by Derek Dauchy, John Finemore, Mason Novick, Aaron Kaplan and Sean Perrone. Stuart Manashil, Rami Yasin, Gabi Antal, James Hoppe and Elizabeth Grave are Executive Producers.
Okuno’s award-winning horror short Slut was directed as a thesis project for the American Film Institute graduate program and garnered praise at festivals around the country. She most recently wrote and directed a segment of the series V/H/S/94” and has been hired to write Orion’s remake of the 1977 supernatural thriller Audrey Rose.
Monroe is repped by WME, Management 360 and Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson. Glusman is repped by WME, Ilene Feldman and Ziffren Brittenham. Gorman is repped by Gersh, Hamilton Hodell and Management 360.
Okuno is repped by UTA, and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer. Ford, whose Watcher script appeared on The Blood List in 2016, is repped by Novo Entertainment.
Cinetic and UTA are handling the US/North American rights to the film, while AGC International, the international sales and distribution arm of Stuart Ford’s fast-growing independent content studio AGC Studios, handles the rights for rest of the world.