Tag Archives: Brian Tran

Bloom and Decay

She Watches Blindly

by Eva Fraser

She Watches Blindly, written and directed by Bryan Tan, invites us into a paranoia-tinged world of magical realism. Trapped by her ability to sense people’s thoughts, Beth Abrams (Emily Dunlop) lives surrounded by the lies of others, encased in a floral patterned tomb reminiscent of the Charlotte Perkins Gilman novella, The Yellow Wallpaper. This unsubtle concept of female hysteria medicated by isolation anchors many narratives, fueled by the frequent misunderstanding of women’s issues.

But, in this film, misunderstanding progresses into acceptance through one character: Dr. Abbott (Rick Andosca). Andosca’s conveyance of complex emotion through a grounded and thoughtful performance makes you believe in Beth even when she’s at her worst. She Watches Blindly complicates the narrative around mental illness, stepping outside its “thriller” label to introduce empathy.

There was no slacking in the mise-en-scène of the film. Everything feels intentional: the lighting, the color green, the heart imagery, the cloying floral patterns, the scattered toys that seem just a little creepy, and the clutter that comes with a lived-in house. This film was made to feel real — terrifyingly so— and it pays off. 

Visuals and sound collaborate to create an environment of reflection. In a film about mirroring observed behaviors, this seems pretty appropriate. When Beth is in her head or listening to others, the audience can always tell: a vignette is repeatedly introduced, narrowing the scene with black fuzzy edges; the audio also becomes muffled, echoing the undertones of dialogue. She Watches Blindly allows us to feel what it might be like to be Beth.

Surveillance becomes a cinematic theme, initiated by Beth’s husband Earl (Justin Torrence) and Dr. Abbott, but handled most masterfully by Beth. There are so many empty shots in the film: the vacant hallway outside the nursery, the curtain to Beth’s room, and the stairway in between. These spaces appear frequently, but with slightly different lighting each time. Tan creates suspense through this emptiness and lulling background noise. These little moments of emptiness reveal a more sinister undertone—we are being watched, too. 

Masterful in its presentation and storytelling, She Watches Blindly is a thriller with heart, fostering community out of tragedy.