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The Watchers
Despite the inevitable scrutiny that comes from her parentage, this is a passable debut feature for Ishana Night Shyamalan

The Watchers

Release Date: June 7, 2024
Runtime: 01:42
Synopsis:
A young artist gets stranded in an extensive, immaculate forest in western Ireland, where, after finding shelter, she becomes trapped alongside three strangers, stalked by mysterious creatures each night.

Table of Contents

An American woman finds herself trapped in supernatural woods in the Irish countryside in . Mina () is an American woman living in Ireland, plagued by guilt over the accidental death of her mother she was responsible for as a child. Mina is tasked by her boss at the pet shop she works at to deliver a rare yellow parrot to a zoo in Belfast. While driving on a road through some woods, Mina's car breaks down.

Wandering through the woods, Mina comes across a single-room bunker occupied by Madeline (), Ciara (), and Daniel (). The bunker, nicknamed “The Coop” by Madeline is the only safe space in the woods at night. It is then when supernatural creatures known as “The Watchers” gather and observe the group through The Coop's wall-sized window.

The Watchers Synopsis

The Watchers is the feature film debut from writer/director Ishana Night Shyamalan, the daughter of M. Night Shyamalan, who produces the film. The film is an adaptation of the 2022 gothic horror novel of the same name by A.M. Shine and stars Dakota Fanning (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Georgina Campbell (Barbarian, Lovely, Dark, and Deep), Oliver Finnegan, and Olwen Fouéré (The Northman, Texas Chainsaw Massacre) as four individuals trapped in woods occupied by inhuman supernatural creatures. The only method of survival is the bunker The Coop, built as part of observational experiments conducted by the long-departed Professor Kilmartin, played in a series of expositional video logs by .

Fouéré's character of Madeline is the de facto leader of the group, coming up with rules for survival, such as only going out in the daylight and avoiding the burrows where The Watchers descend during the day. However, Mina is not content with being a prisoner in these woods. As such, she tries to find a way to escape.

My Thoughts on The Watchers

Previously having written and directed episodes of the Apple TV+ series Servant and acting as second unit director on her father's films Old and Knock at the Cabin, Ishana Night Shyamalan follows in the footsteps of her father M. Night with The Watchers. Whether fair or not, The Watchers is likely a film that will judged based on nepotism, as well in comparison to the films of M. Night Shyamalan. Indeed, Ishana Night Shyamalan doesn't seem to stray too far from her father for her debut and yes, this includes a twist.

That all said, The Watchers does hit a personal sweet spot of mine with a story that is filmed and set in Ireland. Without giving too much away about the plot, the true nature of “The Watchers” has its origins in Irish folklore. As such, I found myself digging the film as a solid piece of Irish folk horror.

Once again, it's a shame that Ishana Night Shyamalan doesn't have a different last name, since The Watchers will probably be judged on the level of scrutiny levelled against her father over the past two decades. The more cynical may end up coming The Watchers unfavourably to films such as The Village or Lady in the Water. However, The Watchers demonstrates that Ishana Night Shyamalan is just as skilled a filmmaker as her father and I will ultimately say that this is a passable debut for her.

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Trailer for The Watchers

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.