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'The Watchers' movie review: ‘Night’ blandness envelopes this attempted spook fest

Updated on: 14 June,2024 02:15 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Johnson Thomas |

'The Watchers' movie review: The Watchers plays along as a voyeuristic slow-burning thriller for starters and then begins to get a little too wild and problematic to make sense

'The Watchers' movie review: ‘Night’ blandness envelopes this attempted spook fest

The Watchers

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'The Watchers' movie review: ‘Night’ blandness envelopes this attempted spook fest

Film: The Watchers
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Georgina Campbell, Olwen Fouéré, Siobhan Hewlett, Alistair Brammer, Hannah Howland, Oliver Finnegan, Charles Camrose
Director: Ishana Night Shyamalan
Rating: 2/5
Runtime: 102 min.

Ishana Night Shyamalan, daughter of M Night Shyamalan, the man famous for creative kooky horror flicks, makes her debut as writer/director with this adaptation of A.M.Shine’s “The Watchers.” She must have thought it was a safe bet following in her father’s footsteps. Her work though is a bit too raw, whimsical and fantastic to work up scares as a horror flick.

The narrative zeros in on 28-year-old American artist Mina (Dakota Fanning), a lost soul living in Galway, as she spends her days working at a pet shop and her nights cosplaying at bars. Mina’s boss asks her to deliver a golden parrot to a zoo near Belfast and she has set out on the journey only to find that her fine running car has suddenly developed problems in the middle of nowhere, in Western Ireland. She promptly gets out with her caged parrot and wanders into the forest calling for help? She wanders around for a bit, circles back to where she left her car and finds that it’s not there, and then goes back into the forest.

The generic contrived nature of this telling is flabbergasting. Why would she go back into the forest when she knows that there’s something eerie happening there? Once back in the expansive arms of the virgin untouched forest, she finds shelter with three inhabitants who themselves are being stalked by mysterious creatures in the night…that’s what they claim. Ishana has the Shyamalan genes and exhibits similar tiresome tricks in an effort to create mystery and suspense for the viewer.

You see the sun set and birds shrilling into hurried flight. Mina finds herself in a space that feels strange and ominous. The woods have become taunting. It’s getting dark and peculiar growling sounds can be heard. Mina also begins to feel like something or someone is giving chase. She comes upon a small bunker called  ‘The Coop’ and finds a woman Madeleine (Olwen Fouere), who ushers her inside. Ciara (Georgina Campbell) and Daniel (Oliver Finnegan) are already there inside.

The coop consists of three walls and a large one-way window, serving as a mirror for them and a display for the forest creatures, who are supposedly watching them.

The Watchers plays along as a voyeuristic slow-burning thriller for starters and then begins to get a little too wild and problematic to make sense. The horror novel this film is based on, was chilling but this filmed work is not. This film adaptation falls incredibly short of what the book achieved with its beautifully crafted character development and suspense. The movie fails to justify why the characters are there in the first place. Their faces remain blank and the pithy dialogue they deliver sounds like they are stoned. In typical Shyamalan fashion, there’s a twist at the end. Deviating from the book’s ending, this twist makes the horror story seem cliched and untenable.

“The Watchers” is not a well-laid-out repast of horror and accompanied trappings. Its over-dependence on lore and heavy dialogue, make it bloated and uneven. The lack of a strident theme is strongly felt.  

The overall production design, cinematography and, atmospherics in the film are competently done. The performances don’t generate any kind of empathy. Since there’s not much world-building happening here, the handicap of a poor script and characters that seem listless and uninteresting become even more tougher to overcome!

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