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The Watchers

The Watchers Review: A Thrilling Debut for Ishana Night Shyamalan

From producer M. Night Shyamalan comes “The Watchers,” written for the screen and directed by Ishana Night Shyamalan and based on the novel by A.M. Shine. The film follows Mina, a 28-year-old artist, who gets stranded in an expansive, untouched forest in western Ireland. When  Mina finds shelter, she unknowingly becomes trapped alongside three strangers who are watched and stalked by mysterious creatures each night. You can’t see them, but they see everything.

The Watchers Trailer

The Good

One of the standout features of The Watchers is its compelling storytelling. The plot consistently engages the audience from start to finish, with each act introducing new dynamics that push the narrative envelope. The story is constructed in a way that heightens stakes with every scene, ensuring that viewers remain invested throughout. The exposition is particularly well-handled, clearly outlining the rules governing the characters and the enigmatic Watchers. This clarity creates persistent tension, especially when characters approach the boundaries of these rules. For instance, when a character ventures into a forbidden area of the forest, it intensifies the intrigue and anticipation. The third act delivers a creative and well-executed ending that avoids spoilers but provides a satisfying conclusion to the story.
The Watchers

An often overlooked but crucial element in The Watchers is its use of sound—or the strategic lack thereof. Silence becomes a powerful tool in building suspense and fear. A particularly chilling moment occurs when Mina places her face against a one-way mirror in complete silence, allowing the audience’s imagination to run wild with anticipated dread. Director Ishana Shyamalan skillfully manipulates sound to amplify the “bump in the night” effects during forest scenes, enhancing the eerie atmosphere. Additionally, Shyamalan’s decision to delay the reveal of the Watchers adds to the film’s tension. By showing only shadows and silhouettes for much of the film, she allows viewers’ imaginations to fill in the gaps, making the eventual reveal even more impactful.

The Watchers

Overall, the acting performances in The Watchers are commendable. Dakota Fanning delivers a solid performance as Mina, serving as a believable conduit for audiences to experience the terror of the forest. Her portrayal effectively captures the fear and determination of her character. The supporting cast also contributes in meaningful ways, each adding depth and nuance to the story, which enhances the overall viewing experience.

The Bad

The Watchers _ The Movie Blog_0026r (Large)

While the plot is engaging, some elements can come off as predictable. For attentive viewers, the film’s twists and turns may be easy to foresee, potentially diminishing the impact of the climax. However, a more casual viewing experience may mitigate this issue. There is a moment in the second act where a character undergoes a sudden change in motivation that feels both contrived and overly convenient. This rushed character pivot seems designed to manufacture additional drama rather than arising organically from the story. Additionally, while the film does a good job of explaining the rules of the forest, these rules could benefit from further development to enhance their believability and depth.

The Verdict

The Watchers is a gripping film filled with thrills and anchored by a compelling narrative. Ishana Shyamalan’s directorial debut is solid, showcasing her potential for a bright future in the film industry. The Watchers excels in its storytelling and use of sound to build suspense, even though it occasionally falls into predictability and features some character motivations that feel forced. Despite these minor shortcomings, the film successfully captivates and entertains, making it a recommended watch for fans of the genre.

The Watchers delivers on the promise of its trailer, combining elements reminiscent of the horror film The Descent (2005) and the horror TV series From (on MGM+). While the film might not be a must-see for all, it certainly offers a worthwhile experience for those looking for something intriguing to watch in theaters. Check out The Watchers when you get a chance for a unique and chilling cinematic experience.

The Watchers Movie

Director: Ishana Night Shyamalan
Writer(s): Ishana Night Shyamalan
Stars: Dakota Fanning, Georgina Campbell, Oliver Finnegan and Olwen Fouere
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The Watchers Review: A Thrilling Debut for Ishana Night Shyamalan
  • Acting - 7/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 7/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 7/10
  • Setting/Theme - 7/10
  • Watchability - 7/10
  • Rewatchability - 7/10
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