Dakota Fanning as Mina in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Dakota Fanning as Mina in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Watchers’, which marks the feature film debut of director Ishana Night Shyamalan, daughter of M. Night Shyamalan (‘The Sixth Sense’) who is also a producer on the film, opens in theaters on June 7th.

Based on the novel of the same name by author A.M. Shine, the movie stars Dakota Fanning (‘The Equalizer 3’), Georgina Campbell (‘Barbarian’), Olwen Fouéré (‘Tarot’), and Oliver Finnegan (‘Outlander’).

Related Article: Dakota Fanning Talks Director Ishana Night Shyamalan's 'The Watchers'

Initial Thoughts

Georgina Campbell as Ciara, Dakota Fanning as Mina, Oliver Finnegan as Daniel and Olwen Fouere as Madeline in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers', a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

(L to R) Georgina Campbell as Ciara, Dakota Fanning as Mina, Oliver Finnegan as Daniel and Olwen Fouere as Madeline in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers', a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Director Ishana Night Shyamalan delivers a satisfying and entertaining supernatural thriller that shows a lot of potential for the young filmmaker, even if the movie does become predictable at times and is weighed down by the expectation of a “Shyamalan twist.” Actress Dakota Fanning gives a moody yet layered performance as the lead character and is flanked by an excellent supporting ensemble that includes Georgina Campbell and Olwen Fouéré.

Story and Direction

Olwen Fouere, Director/Writer Ishana Shyamalan, Oliver Finnegan and Georgina Campbell on the set of New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers', a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

(L to R) Olwen Fouere, Director/Writer Ishana Shyamalan, Oliver Finnegan and Georgina Campbell on the set of New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers', a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The movie begins by introducing us to Mina (Dakota Fanning), a young American living in Ireland who is struggling with guilt from a personal family tragedy. Mina works in a pet store and is asked to deliver a rare bird to a sanctuary miles away. On her journey, Mina’s car breaks down in an untouched forest in western Ireland. While looking for help, Mina’s car mysteriously disappears, and she starts to have visions of things that are not there.

As the sun goes down, Mina soon meets an older woman named Madeline (Olwen Fouéré) who warns her that if she wants to live, she must follow her into a strange building located in the woods. Mina agrees and soon meets two other strangers, Ciara (Georgina Campbell) and Daniel (Oliver Finnegan). It is explained to Mina that there are creatures in the woods known as “The Watchers,” who only come out at night and to survive they must all live together in this room, which has windows for the Watchers to observe them through.

Reluctant at first, Mina eventually agrees to the conditions and lives with the others for months, secretly sneaking out during the day to find a way out of the woods. However, she begins to question what they know about the creatures observing them, and soon realizes that things are not as they appear. Now, it is up to Mina to discover the truth about the Watchers if she wants to ever escape the forest and overcome her own insecurities and fears.

Dakota Fanning and Director/Writer Ishana Shyamalan on the set of New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

(L to R) Dakota Fanning and Director/Writer Ishana Shyamalan on the set of New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Ishana Night Shyamalan’s screenplay is well crafted and builds the suspense throughout. With only four main characters, the script allows time to explore but only Mina and Madeline are given true arcs, and it would have been nice to see more character development with Ciara and Daniel. A big question in the film is “who are the Watchers”? Shyamalan keeps that answer close to her vest through most of the movie, and when it is finally revealed, it’s a bit predictable and not the mind-shattering twist that you might expect.

But Shyamalan does deliver an impressive directorial debut, with excellent shot selection between her and the cinematographer Eli Arenson. While there is only really one set, the production design also is impressive, and the scenes in the woods are moody, and well lighted even at night. As for the design of the creatures, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but they did work well within the context of the film. It’s also worth mentioning that the movie features a fake reality show that the characters watch on TV, which is very funny and was also written and directed by Shyamalan.

Shyamalan Expectations

Olwen Fouere and Director/Writer Ishana Shyamalan on the set of New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers', a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

(L to R) Olwen Fouere and Director/Writer Ishana Shyamalan on the set of New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers', a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The problem with having the last name “Shyamalan’ is that it comes with the expectation of a wild twist ending. Of course, this is because of movies like ‘The Sixth Sense’ and ‘Split’, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, which featured shocking twist endings. Now audiences expect that from M. Night with every film he makes, and I’m afraid that the same will be expected form Ishana’s new movie. Because we as an audience now expect that type of ending from anyone named Shyamalan, it makes the twists and turns in ‘The Watchers’ seem slightly predictable. The twist still works and is satisfying and entertaining, but you’ll probably be able to see it coming. Again, this isn’t Ishana’s fault, the twist is well executed, it just doesn’t land as the big surprise that it was intended because of the audience’s expectations.

Performances

Olwen Fouere as Madeline, Oliver Finnegan as Daniel, Dakota Fanning as Mina and Georgina Campbell as Ciara in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers', a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

(L to R) Olwen Fouere as Madeline, Oliver Finnegan as Daniel, Dakota Fanning as Mina and Georgina Campbell as Ciara in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers', a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

We’ve all watched Dakota Fanning grow up on screen from her early roles in ‘I Am Sam’ and ‘Man on Fire’ to making more adult fair like ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ and ‘The Equalizer 3’. ‘The Watchers’ marks Fanning’s first lead role as an adult and she carries the film well. Fanning plays Mina as a dark, moody and guilt-stricken young woman, who refuses to give up. The actress has some great scenes with Fouéré and overall, a good chemistry with the rest of the cast.

For her role, Olwen Fouéré brings a lot of mystery to Madeline, which helps the third act twist. The actress, who was also recently seen in ‘Tarot’ plays the “creepy lady” role well with her distinctive signature look and brings a strong presence to the film. As for Georgina Campbell and Oliver Finnegan both give solid performances, especially Campbell, but are each shortchanged by the script. We hardly get to know who Daniel was before he came to the woods, and Ciara’s missing husband is not explored as much as it could have been.

Final Thoughts

Georgina Campbell as Ciara, Dakota Fanning as Mina in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

(L to R) Georgina Campbell as Ciara, Dakota Fanning as Mina in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Ishana Night Shyamalan’s directorial debut is an impressive one, even if the film is not perfect. The director creates a suspenseful mood with the help of Dakota Fanning’s captivating performance, but the supporting characters could have been developed more. While the third act twist is predictable due to the “Shyamalan Effect’, even with its predictability, the final twist is still interesting and feels like a satisfying conclusion to the movie.

‘The Watchers’ receives 7 out of 10 stars.

The Watchers

"Let them see you."
59
PG-131 hr 42 minJun 2nd, 2024
Showtimes & Tickets

When 28-year-old artist Mina finds shelter after getting stranded in an expansive, untouched forest in western Ireland, she unknowingly becomes trapped alongside... Read the Plot

What is the plot of ‘The Watchers’?

28-year-old artist Mina (Dakota Fanning) gets stranded in an expansive, untouched forest in western Ireland. Upon finding shelter, she unknowingly becomes trapped alongside three strangers who are watched and stalked by mysterious creatures each night.

Who is in the cast of ‘The Watchers’?

  • Dakota Fanning as Mina
  • Georgina Campbell as Ciara
  • Oliver Finnegan as Daniel
  • Olwen Fouéré as Madeline

Dakota Fanning as Mina in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Dakota Fanning as Mina in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy thriller 'The Watchers,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession. Copyright: © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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