KSL Movie Review: ‘The Watchers’ is a decent debut from a famed director’s daughter

Jun 7, 2024, 7:00 AM

In "The Watchers," a 28-year-old artist gets stranded in a forestexpansive, untouched forest in Wes...

In "The Watchers," a 28-year-old artist gets stranded in a forestexpansive, untouched forest in Western Ireland. Finding shelter, she unknowingly becomes trapped alongside three strangers who are stalked by mysterious creatures every night. (IMDB)


Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — When you’ve spent most of your young life observing your father make a series of chilling movies, it kind of gets in your blood. Perhaps, it also explains why third acts in both father and daughter’s movies are less than satisfactory (aside from “The Sixth Sense).

Yes, we’re talking about surprise-ending director M. Night Shyamalan and now his protégé daughter Ishana Shyamalan who has made her first horror film with producer daddy watching over her shoulder. 

And to her credit, I’d say 75% of this film is pretty good, mainly because it doesn’t explain everything, leaving it up to an eager audience to fill in the creepy details. But then there’s that last 25%, which insists on filling in all the creepy details and more – no! – It should have left well enough alone. 

Mina (Dakota Fanning) is a sad, self-destructive person who is assigned to take an exotic, talking bird across Ireland to an awaiting zoo. However, when she reaches a secluded forest that suggests she has somehow missed the highway, her car suddenly breaks down, forcing her and the bird, she names Darwin, to walk through the dense woods, looking for help.

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She comes upon this elderly woman, standing in an open doorway in the middle of nowhere. The woman is yelling at her to get inside this compound before the sun sets or she’ll become prey to approaching forest creatures.

Inside this massive cement structure is a window wall that turns into an inside mirror when it gets dark. Mina is told to stand with the elderly woman Madeline (Olwen Fouéré), a younger Ciara (Georgina Campbell) and an even younger Daniel (Oliver Finnegan) in front of the glass wall/mirror so “The Watchers” could . . . well I guess watch them do people things – eat, sleep, watch re-runs of an old “Big Brother” type reality show . . . you know boring stuff.

Who are these creatures? Why do they only come out at night? What do they hope to gain by observing human behavior? Some basic info would have gone along nicely with the tension director Ishana has created.

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But suddenly, it becomes a very different movie. All is explained. No more teasing expectations about these mysterious entities. It’s all laid out and as per usual, when someone gives you all the nitty, gritty details, it takes all the imagination out of it and the reaction is – Oh. Huh. Thanks. 

I guess three/fourths of a horror movie is better than nothing, but sometimes saying nothing is better than saying too much. 

THE WATCHERS (C+) Rated PG-13 for violence, terror and some thematic elements. Starring Dakota Fanning, Georgina Campbell, Olwen Fouéré, Oliver Finnegan and John Lynch. Co-written and directed by Ishana Shyamalan in her feature film directorial debut.  She is the daughter of director M. Night Shyamalan. Filmed in Ireland. Running time: 102 minutes.

The KSL Movie Show with Andy Farnsworth and Steve Salles airs Fridays on KSL NewsRadio from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow the show on Facebook, and join The KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500.

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KSL Movie Review: ‘The Watchers’ is a decent debut from a famed director’s daughter