Inspired by the novel by best-selling author Joseph Suglia, Watch Out is a seemingly chthonic black comedy come horror film by the venturesome independent filmmaker Steve Balderson (Underbelly, Firecracker, Pep Squad), who without question sparks another debate as to whether or not his recent genre-defying cinematic piece crosses the line between art or entertainment, is shocking or progressive, obscene or artistic. Some things are better left unseen and are usually censored before they make it to the big screen. Others find niche audiences seeking to see something less mass-marketable that appeals to their inner demons, pushing them against the grain and taking them to another place, for the sheer purpose of feeding that curious cat inside of them, while introspectively seeking the gumption to view something controversial, taboo or in shameful bad taste in the vein of John Water’s Pink Flamingos, Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste or Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 9. When something is perceived so outrageous, even frightful to watch, dare you continue to watch for the sake of seeing what happens next? Many would say no, but internet surfers and film enthusiasts alike know their secret inner demons, clicking from one internet site to the next, viewing various lengths of film for their amusement, entertainment and sometimes their dismay. Watch Out is a film that will test your moral fabric, shock and appall you, even make you uncomfortable, but that is seemingly the intention.
College professor Jonathan Barrows (Matt Riddlehoover) pursues a job at a community college in small-town Michigan but experiences hardships when he arrives at the institution to be interviewed by adjunct professor Dr. Mendoza and is forced to hang around the town until the professor is available. Barrows is a good-looking man living inside his twisted head, notably disturbed by dreadful memories of his parents’ (Jon Niccum, Nancy Pujol) voyeuristic interest in his loss of virginity and horror stories of his hometown.
The collaboration of Riddlehoover and Balderson overtly addresses the issues of characterization of people in society, human sexuality, mental health and behavior. Balderson is no stranger to controversy or cult film, he consistently pushes the barrier of your comfort levels and nudges you a little further to uneasy each time. Watch Out is a film about a redundantly stated autosexual, narcissistic to such a degree he covers the face of an inflatable doll with his very own picture and makes wild and bewildering love to it, demonstrating self-love to such audacity it invokes fear that there just may be someone living next door to you, teaching your students, even eating at your favorite restaurant who behind closed doors delves into the sickest perversions of their own psyche and sexuality and acts upon them. Jonathan Barrows is mortifying, lock your doors!
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