How is it that you can watch something that is so depraved, so bizarre, and so disturbing that you almost loathe finishing it but, when you are watching the damned thing, like it so much that you can’t help but enjoy it? I don’t get it. I just don’t. Such was the quandary with Watch Out a film recently released on DVD and which was based on a book by the over-the-top author (and self acclaimed Greatest Author in the World) Dr. Joseph Suglia. I have seen a lot of movies over the years and I can say, with all honesty, that this is one of the weirdest films I have ever seen. Whether that is praise or damnation I am still unsure about.
Watch Out is the story of Jonathan Barrows, a man who is so wholly in love with himself as to barely be able to contain his self focused erotic thoughts. A man so enamored with all that he is that he has created his own porn to watch of himself or to look at. Jonathan, you see, is god. Or at least the only relevant god in current existence. And thus, being god, he is beyond the conception or understanding of other humans. People, we find out, disgust Jonathan and any attempt to connect with him is always rebuffed and refused. Despite his disdain for people though, Jonathan needs to make a living so he is in Benton Harbor, Michigan to see about a professorship there, only to find that there may be no such position and that the people of this small town may not be so easy to shoo away or rebuff. What Jonathan finds is that here, like everywhere he goes, the people are obsessed with him, their attractions understandable but boring and their insistent calls for attention draining. His room is ransacked, he is harassed, and despite his charms, people are beginning to get angry with his attitude. Things escalate for Jonathan when he confronts the professor who holds the power to hire him and he finds that his charm alone isn’t enough for him to get ahead anymore. The second act of the film, which comprises the last twenty minutes, give or take, details how Jonathan became who he is, and how, anyone who stood in his way of getting what he wanted, or who annoyed him too deeply, ended up meeting with a very unhappy ending.
An over the top film, in every way, it’s hard to know what to make of it. The main character is such a bastard that you certainly don’t root for him but, against the banality and ugliness of the rest of the world, you have to admit his charms. What was funny was how often the lead actor was nude, which, while not that shocking I suppose, gets shocking considering that as the film progresses we see that the actor was definitely method acting some of his, er solo acts. Heck, there is an aspect of the film that plays like porn, and, well, may be, but it is played so straight that the sensationalism of porn is lost and you are left only with the reality of that situation. The script is completely over-written but that is clearly the intention and it is a shame that so much of the acting is so poor because, with better actors, this script would have shined a lot brighter. I think if I had one major criticism it’d be that, well, I don’t get it.
But that’s ok.
I mean, to a degree it’s an examination of madness, on self worship, on how boring the word is, and I am sure on other things but, too, it’s just a movie. A weird, weird movie with murder, masturbation, madness, and mammaries, and I guess that’s good enough.
Would I recommend it? Yes, with the caveat that you understand that this is not a film to take lightly. It’s a weird, funny movie that is terribly self indulgent, and will undoubtedly wear out its welcome at times but is something like you’ve never seen before.
A hard 7.