Someone’s Watching Me (1978) 3.29/5 (1)


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Rating: The Good – 69.5
Genre: Thriller
Duration: 97  mins
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Lauren Hutton, David Birney, Adrienne Barbeau

It might be a made-for-tv movie but this early offering from John Carpenter is a chance to see him hone his skills because many of his trademark shots and scares can be seen here for the first time. On top of that, the story of a television director who moves to LA to start her life anew but finds herself the victim of a methodical and clever stalker is a compelling and well told one. The build up is immensely patient with sharp moments of fear or trepidation interjected unexpectedly to keep the audience on their toes. There are some modest but enjoyable set pieces at key moments in the film and, as you’d expect from the man who made Halloween that same year, they are precisely structured and composed.

Lauren Hutton is (mostly) very good in the lead role and she achieves that all important balance between independent woman and vulnerable victim perfectly. That said, when in the former mode, she tends to play it a little coarse and while not damaging the integrity of her character, she would have better ingratiated herself with the audience if she had toned it down slightly (of course, as her director, the young Carpenter may have been a little light on notes in this regard). David Birney as the love interest and (the director’s future wife) Adrienne Barbeau as her friend are very well used in support to both lighten the mood and also add substance to the tenser moments.

The film’s style and look are clearly inspired by Hitchcock. For example, there is an excellent North by Northwest inspired title sequence and some obvious nods to Rear Window in both plot and set-up. This is interesting in its own right because while much of Carpenter’s influences were more overtly coming from George A. Romero and Howard Hawks, his Hitchcockian influences persisted albeit in more discrete ways. Thus, in addition to being a cracking little thriller, Someone’s Watching Me offers us some nice glimpses into the shaping of Carpenter’s style.

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