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Ishana Night Shyamalan’s Horror Journey Off To A Weak Start with The Watchers – Review

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The Watchers, Ishana Night Shyamalan’s directorial debut, aims to establish her own niche in the horror genre, yet the film grapples with mixed results. Set against the haunting backdrop of a remote forest in western Ireland, the story follows Mina, played by Dakota Fanning, who is ensnared in a nocturnal nightmare with three strangers. The premise itself is tantalizing, drawing heavily from Irish folklore, but while the folklore aspect adds a unique texture to the narrative, it sometimes feels underutilized, as if the potential of these eerie tales was left untapped.

The Watchers

Shyamalan’s eye for crafting unsettling atmospheres is absent throughout the film, relying on her cinematographer to deliver beautiful shots without the emotion or tension needed. The cinematography, with its use of natural light and shadows, contributes significantly to the film’s unsettling ambiance. However, the pacing of the film is off, with a midsection that drags and diminishes the tension built in the opening act. This sluggishness can make the 100-minute runtime feel considerably longer, detracting from the overall suspense.

Dakota Fanning delivers a decent performance, embodying Mina with a blend of vulnerability and resilience. Her portrayal is one of the film’s highlights, providing a grounded counterpoint to the supernatural elements. The other characters feel underdeveloped, their motivations and backstories hinted at but never fully explored, leaving the audience wanting more.

One of the film’s most divisive elements is its twist ending. In true Shyamalan fashion, the narrative culminates in a revelation that aims to recontextualize everything that came before it. However, unlike the more seamless twists of M. Night Shyamalan, Ishana’s attempt here feels more forced. Some viewers may appreciate the bold narrative turn, but others might find it undermines the story’s buildup, feeling more like a gimmick than a payoff. The execution of this twist is crucial in horror, and while ambitious, it falls short of being fully convincing.

The Watchers also struggles with maintaining its horror elements consistently. The film oscillates between moments of genuine creepiness and instances where the horror feels contrived. There are sequences designed to scare, but they lack the subtlety that could have made them truly terrifying. The sound design, though effective in parts, occasionally overplays its hand, relying on clichéd jump scares that do little to enhance the psychological horror.

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In the hands of someone more experienced, The Watchers could have shown promise. However, as is, its uneven pacing, underdeveloped characters, and a polarizing twist hold it back from being worth a watch.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5.0

The Watchers is playing in theaters on June 7th, 2024.

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1 Response

  1. Double Eerie says:

    Felt like Shyamalan lost his touch a bit.

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