If you’ve ever said to yourself, “50 Shades of Grey is cool but everyone seems too rich and I don’t actually want to see any naked body parts,” then I Am Watching You is just your speed!
We start on a scene of a guy and girl laying on the floor covered in blood. That’s it. Then we get the title screen and then we’re in a nice airy apartment with the same girl that we saw covered in blood walking around with no problems. I love this – it’s Lifetime’s way of promising that sure, everything looks kind of mundane now, but stick it out, there will be blood!!! (Also, please note that I said APARTMENT! This is the first Lifetime movie I’ve ever seen that doesn’t take place in a model home. That said, she does live in a gorgeous studio, but still loving that they acknowledge not everyone owns model homes at age 22. They really get it.)
Nora, our main girl, is a romance writer. She’s in a rut after a break up with a boyfriend (Mark, such a solid ex-boyfriend name) and even worse, she has writer’s block because of it! Karen, her best friend who is a reporter and a cool and casual lesbian (wow, Lifetime really trying to stay modern with what the average millennial life is like nowadays!) calls to do some best friend chatting, and complain about this missing woman case she’s covering. YUP MISSING WOMAN CASE. Obviously remember this because if a woman is missing in Lifetime, it’s for a damn good plot reason. While on the phone with Karen, Nora notices her hot neighbor getting changed right in front of his window. He clearly does a lot of back exercises. Karen tells Nora to go after this guy, and then says she’s bringing over wine later. These Lifetime writers read some Buzzfeed articles and now totally get what it’s like to be in your 20s.
Inspired by her hot neighbor, Nora starts writing, creating a character Cassandra that has a thing for her hot neighbor. NEWS ALERT – Nora is Cassandra and everything Cassandra thinks is really what Nora thinks!!! Guys, this is next-level creativity! Nora does some low-stakes snooping (looking out her peephole as he walks into his apartment with a girl, sitting at her window on the computer that looks perfectly into his open bedroom window), watching him and developing a fascination for him. Things get a little next level because she fantasizes about him touching her and is legit sweaty when she snaps back, so yeah, Lifetime is pushing the envelope. But hey, its good for her writing!
Nora heads out to meet her friend Scotty for breakfast the next morning, says hi to the hot neighbor while walking by (OMG!), and talks to Scotty about how she’s been watching this hot neighbor from her window. She says that she can see in to his room because of the angle of the building, which has me doing some serious architecture/geometry/building codes examination; so their apartments are next to each other in the hallway, but somehow she has a room that looks over an alleyway into his bedroom window. Unless this is like an interior room of maybe something like the Pentagon, I’m not totally convinced this building meets safe building requirements, let alone is even possible to build.
Also, Scotty is a total guy friend! Another Lifetime first! Usually, all the guys in these movies are madly in love with the lead woman or is trying to kill her, so Scotty being a solid friend that respects her as a person and talks to her about her other male relationships is the most progressive thing yet! Scotty even tries to tell her to rebound with the neighbor if she wants, but that he also wants her to have someone real in her life. Give it up for Scotty!
Ok so turns out the hot neighbor is also watching Nora. Is it sexy? Is it creepy? Is it both? Let’s see. He pretends to be locked out of his apartment so that he can hang with Nora in her apartment. While waiting for a locksmith, they have a glass of wine and flirt on the couch. We learn that his name is Lucas, which is total hot guy name, so again, killing it in the name department. He’s also a photographer, which is classic hot guy profession. A couple of glasses of wine later, they’re taking photos of each other with his camera, it’s getting flirty, things are happening! Lucas even says “Photography is a journey” which is the number-one-panty-removing line, and then Nora explains the literal definition of writing…”You pick the best words, give the characters emotions.” What insight.
The locksmith arrives, Lucas “accidentally” spills wine on Nora so that she has to change, and while she’s gone, he has the locksmith get a copy of Nora’s key instead of do anything to his door (remember, he didn’t actually lock himself out, his keys are with him). So YEAH, if any part of you thought, “Wow, Lucas is just a hot and sexy photographer,” WRONG because he’s already planning to break into her apartment, clearly.
The next morning, Nora wakes up to find photos from the night before shoved under her door. She somehow looks perfectly beautiful. That’s literally the one reason to date a photographer – you get a solid selection of gorgeous candids of yourself. She’s feeling good, she’s writing a lot, Nora is working it!
Nora heads out with Karen and Scotty for Scotty’s birthday, has lots of drinks, and they tell her to make a move on Lucas. And because she’s an assertive modern woman, she does! She knocks on his door after returning from the bar, comes in and looks at his photos (seeing plenty of a previous muse…). Then Nora admits she’s been watching Lucas, Lucas admits he didn’t lock himself out, and they head to his dark room (of course he somehow has one in an apartment). He has a box of photos that are his “best work” that he won’t let her see. HMM SUSPICIOUS. Lucas then asks her to talk about her work, and ISWTG (I swear to God) she says, “It’s about sex. Crazy sex. Lots of it.” Which then leads to them boning…??? I guess they figured we weren’t getting the sexy undertones, so had to make it as obvious as humanly possible.
Nora can’t even stay the full night – she’s so freaking inspired to write after this bone session that she goes right back to her place to write at what is probably 3:30 am. Over morning mimosas, she tells Scotty and Karen about her bold night, and they are hyped for her. Nora says she’s not ready for a relationship, Scotty tells her to make sure Lucas knows what she wants. Again, how modern and reasonable! ALSO IMPORTANT – Karen brings up the missing woman, Maureen Galligher again. NEVER FORGET THERE IS A MISSING WOMAN.
That night, while she’s trying to write, Lucas and Nora sexy strip in front of their windows for each other. Cool, but again, WHAT IS THE LAYOUT OF THIS BUILDING? Lucas invites himself over and they bone for what I can only imagine from this montage is 37 hours over two days. It’s pretty graphic for Lifetime – I was openly saying a scandalized “oh my god!” so I think they got the reaction out of me that they wanted, so kudos to them! Also, important for plot, Nora tells Lucas she doesn’t want anything serious right now, he’s cool with it. Everything is mature and upfront, for now…
While Lucas is in the shower after one of the many bone sessions, Nora finds another stash of photos under a floorboard in Lucas’s bedroom of a woman. Sketchy. I realize I’m saying bone session a lot – that’s sex in case there’s any confusion.
Nora gets lunch with Scotty and talks about how great things are with Lucas and her novel – a publisher is willing to meet with Nora because of her blog following! YAY NORA! But remember how Lucas is crazy? YEAH he follows her to her lunch and takes pictures of her eating with Scotty. See, WE know that Scotty is just a friend, but Lucas doesn’t know shit and thinks women and men can’t be friends! He’s so not modern.
In her meeting with the publisher, Nora talks about women taking control of their own sexuality – who would have thought Nora from Lifetime is the embodiment of the modern feminist? The publisher is loving it and gives Nora a book deal! Now Nora needs to step it up and write this book ASAP – she wants a final draft in two weeks, which is insane, but the perfect catalyst for extra drama. Oh, the publisher also requests a bondage scene, so of course, Nora has to do that with Lucas – like I said, it’s 50 Shades of Grey minus the helicopter.
With this insane deadline, Nora, understandably, tells Lucas that she’s going to be really busy writing and won’t have time for much else (boning). Lucas “understands” but of course he doesn’t because he’s actually crazy. He tells her that she knows where he lives if she gets writer’s block.
Nora is writing, Lucas interrupts her by leaving a present with a card that freaking says LOVE on it – it’s been what, a MONTH? She opens it in front of the window so that he can see her and it’s photos of them boning – was she aware that he was taking photos of them? It doesn’t seem like it because she looks pretty confused. He then calls her and she ignores the call – again in front of the window for him to see, so he’s pissed and feeling rejected, and remember, HE IS CRAZY.
We get a montage of her writing and being busy – this is some of the best busy acting I’ve ever seen – so clearly she’s legit working hard and not seeing Lucas for a good reason. Lucas spends his time developing photos of Nora because, well, he’s crazy. Nora, beginning to feel some writer’s block, heads over to Lucas’s apartment, LIKE HE TOLD HER SHE COULD, and they bone for inspiration.
Nora gets lunch with Scotty and Karen again (BTW Karen has an undercut haircut because, in case you didn’t realize, she’s a cool, young, millennial). She reads them a bit from her novel and they ask her questions about the bondage parts – did she really do that? Is she being safe? Is there trust? Does she actually know anything about this guy? Nora gets a little pissed because HELLO these were the same people who TOLD HER to start fooling around with him, and honestly, I get it! Now that she’s done it, they’re gonna judge her and lecture her? But then again, they just want her to be careful, and as an outside viewer who knows that Lucas is crazy, I can’t actually be mad at them because they’re right.
Lucas turns it up to full crazy after this hook up, calling and texting Nora all the time, inviting her to a gallery viewing even though he knows she’s busy with her book. She has a meeting with her publisher TOMORROW and he still tries to pressure her to go out, and when she doesn’t show, you know, because she’s writing a novel, he comes over and yells at her.
We’ve hit the Lifetime Turningpoint™! Lucas admits he gave up a photo job to be here with her, he’d give up anything for her, classic crazy stuff. Nora reminds him that she’s really busy, didn’t want a real relationship and that they had talked about that previously. He gets so out of control that Nora has to kick him out of her place. She then sees him at his place breaking things and freaking out – solid crazy.
Scotty comes over that night because Nora is all upset and tells him about all the drama with Lucas, Scotty says that’s normal behavior for a guy who just got dumped. It’s late so Scotty ends up staying over on the couch. Of course, Lucas sees Scotty leaving the next morning from Nora’s place and assumes they slept together. Lucas uses his crazy key to get into Nora’s place and throws pictures of Scotty away.
Do you think that’s crazy enough? No? Well good because Lucas FOLLOWS SCOTTY AND ATTACKS HIM ON THE STREET WITH A TRIPOD. BECAUSE HE’S A PHOTOGRAPHER REMEMBER?! We’re talking blood and within an inch of his life.
While Scotty is almost dying, Nora has her meeting with her publisher, it’s great, but she has another tight deadline to meet. Karen and Nora learn about the attack on Scotty, and visit an unconscious Scotty in the hospital. He’s not looking good.
Nora returns home and Lucas catches her in the hallway to apologize for his behavior the night before. He tries to come in, Nora says no, but when she opens the door, she sees flowers and presents from Lucas on the table – so now we all know that Lucas made a key to her place on his own. Sure, he tries to say she left the door unlocked, but yeah freaking right. Lucas gives her a typewriter, which is cute but super impractical for a blogger-turned-serious novelist. He also gives her photos from the lunch he stalked her at. Ugh yes, Lucas’s full crazy is showing.
Karen and Nora are cool girls and eat Chinese food on the couch – Karen makes the valid point that, hi, Lucas was in your apartment, you can’t stay there, but Nora doesn’t listen for God knows what reason. While Karen gives advice to Nora that Nora doesn’t take, they see a news report on that missing girl Maureen Gallagher on the news – and wait a minute – it looks like the same girl that Lucas had photos of in his weird photo stash! (And not only the same girl, but the same exact photo which makes no sense because why would Lucas’s photo be the one the news uses? But that’s a beautiful Lifetime Plot Hole™, and we always need one of those to keep us grounded.)
While Nora isn’t home, crazy Lucas calls Nora again, leaving a voicemail to break up with her (huh?) and then breaks into her apartment again. Is he delusional? Trying to set up a new narrative that Nora is the crazy one? Who even knows?
Lucas brings a girl back to his apartment to make Nora jealous, solid crazy move. Nora rolls her eyes and shuts the shades (finally). Then Lucas comes into her apartment AGAIN and watches her sleep!!! How many times does this guy need to do this???
In the morning, Lucas pretends to be a normal and rational person, telling Nora that he’s taking a photo job in New York, says he wants to be friends when he’s back, and that he’ll see her in a few weeks.
God Bless Karen because she says what we’re all thinking – she’s confused that Nora’s “Crazy, obsessive stalker” broke up with her and again tells Nora that she should move out. Reminded about missing Maureen Gallagher for the 135235 time in the movie, Nora finally realizes that Maureen is probably the same woman that she saw pictures of in Lucas’s apartment. But she needs proof, obviously. HERE WE GO.
So, the classic detective move, she Googles (okay, it’s Firefox search, I guess they can’t afford the Google Logo), how to pick a lock, breaks into Lucas’s apartment (those were really good instructions) and looks for those photos of Maureen. She finds photos of herself in the damn box, so she knows she’s in danger now, as well as those photos of Maureen.
That online tutorial for breaking a lock was good, but not good enough because Nora left the damn door open and Lucas, returning home at that exact moment, now knows she’s in there. Nora, being smart, actually calls 911 to save herself from Lucas killing her! YES GIRL, THERE WE GO. Nora confronts Lucas about Maureen, he won’t admit it. Instead, he talks about how Nora and he are meant to be together. Legit psycho.
Nora takes a verbal warning from the police about breaking into Lucas’s apartment (fair) and they only partially listen to her about missing Maureen Gallagher being tied to Lucas (No One Listens to Me trope spotted!). Nora returns home, Lucas answers some questions for the police, nothing comes of it.
Ok, then Karen calls and it turns out Maureen wasn’t missing – she ran away with her boyfriend and eloped. OOPS guess Lucas didn’t murder her, which I admit is a HUGE surprise, but I guess we needed this missing girl as a reason for drama to escalate between Nora and Lucas. Anyway, Karen says she’s coming over later, and of course, bringing pizza and wine – Buzzfeed is loving this shit.
Karen arrives, but the buzzer doesn’t work and Nora doesn’t hear her phone because she’s wearing headphones while writing – Nora is an irresponsible host, you should always be on the lookout for guests arriving! Nora then gets a creepy feeling that someone is in her apartment and SURPRISE, Lucas broke in AGAIN. He tries to get her to be with him again, but Nora fights him off. We get a full fight scene – there’s hitting with the laptop, smashing the refrigerator door, etc. In all of this, Lucas even admits he attacked Scotty! Now Nora knows he’s actually violent and dangerous! The fighting continues, Lucas chokes her, until she almost passes out, but she manages to grab the knife she was making a salad with and stabs him, killing him!
We then go to the scene of Nora and Lucas on the floor covered in blood, the same one from the beginning. Karen finally gets into the building and helps Nora to safety. All is okay!
We flash forward a couple of months. Nora’s book is published, it’s a huge success, and she’s at a book signing! Scotty and Karen come by, they’re all still awesome friends and Scotty and Nora are still alive! This is the best kind of Lifetime Ending. 9/10!