Image Nation Abu Dhabi will be heading to the world’s biggest celebration of independent cinema when its new psychological thriller Watcher premieres at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah in January.
Watcher is directed by award-winning writer/director Chloe Okuno and stars rising ‘scream queen’ Maika Monroe (It Follows, The Guest), 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 in Bucharest, just as the city is gripped by panic over a possible serial killer on the loose. Julia (Monroe) finds herself isolated in her new surroundings and becomes tormented by the belief that she is being stalked by an unseen watcher in the adjacent building.
“I am incredibly honoured to have my first feature-length film premiere at Sundance," Okuno said. "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 dramatic competition at the festival, is a co-production between 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). It is the first movie in a multi-picture deal between the two companies.
“Working with Chloe, the incredible cast, crew and production team, we always believed Watcher had tremendous potential," said Schneider. "For us to receive recognition from Sundance is an incredible moment for us and we look forward to seeing audience’s reactions."
Schneider previously collaborated with Image Nation Abu Dhabi as a producer on Ali F Mostafa’s dystopian Arab thriller The Worthy in 2016. “It’s fantastic to get back into production with Image Nation, a truly supportive partner. I look forward to working with Chloe Okuno, and to seeing what her incredible talent will bring to this great script,” he said.
The announcement comes following the release of Image Nation & AGC International’s co-production Al Kameen, the Emirati thriller which has been breaking box-office records in the UAE and entrancing audiences across the region.
“We are extremely proud of this project and Sundance will provide the perfect platform to premiere to the world,” said Ben Ross, Image Nation’s chief content officer. "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."
Okuno recently wrote and directed a segment of the series V/H/S/94 and has been hired to write Orion Pictures' remake of the 1977 supernatural thriller Audrey Rose.