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The Watchers

  • Film
The Watchers
Photograph: Warner Bros.

Time Out says

Ishana Night Shyamalan’s forest horror is more wooden than its setting

So, does The Watchers (The Watched, if you’re outside the US) boast a big reveal? It’s a fair question, considering that Ishana Night Shyamalan’s thriller was produced by her twist-king father, M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense). And the answer is… kinda? The finale may mean to shock, but it’s so obvious that if you try to predict it, you’ll just overshoot and wind up disappointed.

Dakota Fanning works hard to center Shyamalan’s shaky debut as Mina, a troubled artist who gets dangerously lost in an eerie Irish wood. She’s rescued by mysterious strangers (including Joyride’s Olwen Fouéré, a standout) who live in a glass-walled bunker, leave only during the day, and pose in front of the window at night. Why? So the forest’s ‘Watchers’ – mysterious creatures who presumably prey on humans – can, well, watch them.

Much of it feels like it was patched together in post-production

Abel Korzeniowski’s portentous score does pair nicely with Eli Arenson’s lush and moody cinematography. But the script, adapted by Shyamalan from AM Shine’s 2022 gothic novel, is a muddle of expository conversation, half-developed threads, and plot holes wider than the Watchers’ traps. Between the distractingly clunky CGI effects and choppily re-recorded dialogue, much of the movie also feels like it was patched together in post-production. 

Fanning tries to hold everything together, but she does appear uncomfortably aware of the film’s unsteady scaffolding. Who could blame her? By the time Mina gets to that last surprise, we’ve long started checking our watches.

In cinemas worldwide Jun 7.

Elizabeth Weitzman
Written by
Elizabeth Weitzman

Cast and crew

  • Director:Ishana Shyamalan
  • Screenwriter:Ishana Shyamalan, A.M. Shine
  • Cast:
    • Dakota Fanning
    • Georgina Campbell
    • Olwen Fouere
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