Someone's Watching Me! screenshot

Someone's Watching Me! (1978)

two stars

A woman moves to Los Angeles and quickly discovers she's being watched by a nosy neighbor with alarming intentions.


Immediately before he made Halloween, John Carpenter directed a television thriller called Someone's Watching Me. Making a movie for TV meant he couldn't rely on the brutal violence he had previously utilized so effectively in Assault on Precinct 13, but working for Warner Bros. allowed Carpenter to get his first experience with a major studio. The result is an effective but ultimately unexceptional film.

Leigh Michaels (Lauren Hutton) has just moved to Los Angeles when she starts receiving ominous phone calls. Letters and packages are delivered as well, promising that she's won a trip to an exotic destination. Leigh stops playing along as she slowly realizes how closely she's being monitored, which causes the voyeur to get increasingly more threatening. The closer Leigh gets to the Peeping Tom, the more dangerous her situation becomes.

Someone's Watching Me! screenshot

Someone's Watching Me is a steadily-paced thriller that builds tension from the opening scene to the end of the film. The overall level of anxiety increases every time Leigh is contacted by her "admirer." It's the same crushing sense of dread that Carpenter utilizes in later works, but it's not achieved as expertly here. The story is based on timeless, relatable fears, and the film is entertaining, but not innovative.

Rather than pushing the boundaries of what he could get away with, Carpenter works within the confines of a low-budget, studio-produced television film to deliver an effective thriller. The movie is historically significant, but not because of the quality or content of the film itself. Shot mere weeks before Carpenter would begin production on Halloween, Someone's Watching Me was a tremendous learning opportunity for the young filmmaker.

It's interesting to see what John Carpenter was working on right before he made one of the most important landmark horror films of all time. Someone's Watching Me is a solid film, if not particularly memorable. The slow pace and simple story are sure to bore some viewers, making it a must-see movie for Carpenter fanatics, but little more than a footnote for most horror fans.