Film Review – THE WATCHERS (2024): Ishana Shyamalan’s New Thriller Feels Ambitious but is Too Complicated for its Own Good SuperNayr

Dakota Fanning Georgina Campbell The Watchers

The Watchers Review

The Watchers (2024) Film Review, a movie directed Ishana Syamalan, written by A.M. Shine and Ishana Shyamalan and starring Dakota Fanning, Georgina Campbell, Olwen Fouéré, Oliver Finnegan, Allstair Brammer, John Lynch, Siobhan Hewlett, Hannah Dargan, Emily Dargan, Joel Figueroa, Anthony Morris, Shane O’Regan and Jim Tighe.

The conclusion of The Watchers feels like something out of a needlessly complex book rather than a first feature from a potentially up-and-coming director. That’s probably due to the fact that this new supernatural thriller is, in fact, based on a book by A.M. Shine. This new film, The Watchers, begins promisingly like many horror movies do and then transcends into something interesting before going off the rails at the end with an overly complicated conclusion. But, the twist that the movie ultimately provides is that the film is not much of a horror film at all.

The film looks great and has some good acting but the story line takes the viewer unexpected places in a haphazard fashion. Meanwhile, for now, the jury is still out on whether Ishana Shyamalan, the director of The Watchers, can make a twisty film as good as her dad, M Night Shyamalan, can. As far as Ishana is concerned, at least for the time being, it seems The Watchers doesn’t have the cinematic flair that daddy Shyamalan’s early thrillers possessed.

The plot of The Watchers is almost all surprises but some can be revealed because the trailer unveils the movie’s basic overall premise. Set in Ireland, Mina (Dakota Fanning) is a young girl who winds up transporting a large parrot from one point to another. Mina, unfortunately, gets stuck in the woods when her car breaks down. Then, she goes a bit further from the road on foot and walks deeper into the woods and turns around only to discover her car has disappeared. An older woman named Madeline (Olwen Fouéré) turns out to be inviting and asks Mina to join her and two other people in a house to escape from some monsters who are -you guessed it– “watching” her. The other two eccentric characters who reside with Madeline are: Ciara (Georgina Campbell) and Daniel (Oliver Finnegan).

Mina is an artist who lost her mom over a decade ago and has deep-seated issues that only exist in movies or books such as this one. Mina seems to come to care somewhat for Madeline, Ciara (who yearns for her husband) and Daniel but Mina is also primarily concerned with saving herself from harm, of course. The big scene has the four central characters lining up inside the house and they are placed strategically in the view of the “monsters” who come out at night and are known as “The Watchers.” In the interim, Madeline fills Mina in on everything that she needs to know regarding the logistics of living in the woods.

There is a reveal where a secret door appears on the floor that may remind one of the floorboards that hid the big secret of M. Night Shyamalans’s masterpiece, The Village. The Watchers doesn’t really work at all when compared to Ishana’s dad’s biggest thrillers. However, you don’t expect a character to appear at the end of The Watchers with wings. In the end, the big secret of The Watchers is more intriguing to think about than it is in the film’s execution of it.

Dakota Fanning is serviceable in her role here. She carries around the parrot from time-to-time which actually manages to prove to be a pivotal character in the film. Olwen Fouéré is always intriguing and her mysterious role here is no exception. Georgina Campbell plays second fiddle to Fanning and doesn’t have the type of meaty role she had in the far superior Barbarian which established Campbell as an up-and-comer. Finnegan is weird in the way he performs here but he is also strangely fascinating to watch as he overacts convincingly. Too bad, almost all these characters lack development and feel flatly written, though.

There were a lot of lofty themes explored in The Watchers which will disappoint those expecting a straight horror film. The movie is certainly thought-provoking but is more psychological than scary although the overall concept is initially frightening from its outset. But, the major twist of the movie wouldn’t really be such a big twist if the name Shyamalan weren’t attached to the project. Apparently, the filmmakers of The Watchers don’t want too much of the plot revealed in reviews. The success of The Watchers at the box-office will depend mostly on audiences not knowing anything about the film’s second half where it unveils its surprises. But, the surprises lack the punch that Ishana’s dad’s movies had back in the late 90’s, the early 2000’s, etc.

There’s not much else to say about the needlessly complex plot revelations of The Watchers. It’s only fair to keep this review short for people who actually want to see the film and want to know if Ishana can follow in her father’s footsteps. This film doesn’t answer many questions about Ishana’s talents. She needs to fully write her own script next time so we can figure out if she can one day be a “master” of suspense. Though her dad doesn’t get that kind of praise that much anymore given the mediocrity of films he’s done lately like the twist-less Knock at the Cabin. The biggest mystery is why Dakota Fanning was attracted to a film with the generic-sounding title, The Watchers. There’s a lot going on in the film in some ways but the movie is still light on substance beyond the basic essentials which lay the foundations for its existence.

Rating: 6/10

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