‘The Watchers’: Horror, with a Shyamalan Twist

No, not that one. Director Ishana Shyamalan, 24, chats about her first feature film in a very familiar genre.

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Still from ‘The Watchers’ (2024) (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Snigdha Sur


June 7, 2024


7 min

“There is a forest in the west of Ireland that you can’t find on any map. They say it draws lost souls like moths to a flame. Those who wander in never come back out.” A man is running in this very forest, trying to escape, only to shriek, “That’s impossible!” before something takes him. And so opens The Watchers (2024), the feature film debut for Ishana Shyamalan, M. Night Shyamalan’s middle child, adapted from A.M. Shine’s novel of the same name. 

Drawing from the depths of Irish folklore, this forest is also home to “watchers,” beings whom humans must entertain — or else. The movie centers Mina (Dakota Fanning), Ciara (Georgina Campbell), Madeline (Olwen Fouéré), and Daniel (Oliver Finnegan), four individuals who have gotten stuck in the forest and can’t get out. So they spend their days in a concrete bunker, replete with a one-way mirror that allows the watchers to look upon them at night.

But, like any Shyamalan film, not all is what it seems, and the truth is far more sinister. In Ishana Shyamalan’s hands, horror is “slower and softer” and “more feminine,” she told The Juggernaut. Yet, you’ll still be in for a wild ride, with a signature family twist (or two), surprising humor, and some observations on humanity to file away long after the credits roll.

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