‘The Watchers’ Movie Review: Beautifully Shot, But A Very ‘Meh’ Film

The Watchers Movie Review

I was both curious and cautious, venturing into the screener for The Watchers this week. M. Night Shyamalan’s recent films haven’t quite hit the mark for me (and that’s putting it nicely), though I do hold a soft spot for his early masterpieces. I keep hoping for another Signs or The Six Sense. That being said, I know he was only a producer here, which gave me a little more hope for a creepy thriller filled with fae lore.

Produced by M. Night Shyamalan, The Watchers is an adaptation directed by Ishana Night Shyamalan (Shyamalan’s daughter), based on the novel by A.M. Shine. The film’s plot centers around Mina, a 28-year-old artist. Isolated in a vast, stunning forest in western Ireland, her quest for shelter leads her to a seemingly safe haven. However, she soon discovers she is not alone; she is joined by three others. Together, they must face the terrifying reality of being stalked by unknown creatures that lurk in the shadows, watching their every move as darkness falls.

The Watchers Movie Trailer

The Watchers Movie Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like

The Watchers promised a new twist on fae lore nestled in a supernatural thriller, yet what unfolded was a mixed bag that struggled to leave a lasting impact. The film’s visuals are undeniably its strongest feature. The breathtaking Irish wilderness serves as a captivating backdrop, giving each scene a beautiful, eerie glow.

Ishana Night Shyamalan’s attention to visual composition, paired with Eli Arenson’s cinematography, actually worked really well to create what felt like a lush haunted ambiance that almost makes you forgive the film’s less convincing elements.

However, it’s in the story itself where The Watchers begins to falter. The plot, centered on Mina, a lonely artist played by Dakota Fanning, unfolds with potential but quickly gets lost in its own complexity. Mina’s journey, from a small pet shop worker to a survivalist in a mythical forest, is dramatic but lacks depth and connectivity with the audience.

The Story

The film introduces Mina’s woodsy refuge, a secure-ish concrete shack. And we meet the three other occupants, setting the stage for what feels like it’s going to be claustrophobic suspense as they endure the night terrors of the forest.

However, the characters feel underdeveloped, each feeling one-dimensional and like mere plot devices rather than fleshed-out individuals we might actually care about. And don’t even get me started on the gapping plot holes. There are far too many to count.

The script attempts to blend horror with Irish folklore, but it doesn’t do justice to either. Details like how the group survives in a single room are glossed over, making it hard to stay invested. And for those expecting a big M. Night Shyamalan-style plot twist, there is one, but it doesn’t pack much of a punch. 

The Watchers

The Performances

Despite the script’s limitations, Dakota Fanning delivers a heartfelt performance as Mina. Fanning’s portrayal of vulnerability and determination provides some emotional anchor to the otherwise lackluster character development.

The supporting cast, including Georgina Campbell, Oliver Finnegan, and Olwen Fouéré , do their best with what they are given, but the absense of character complexity does not leave much room for memorable performances. Their characters remain quite flat.


The Watchers teases a fascinating blend of myth and suspense but ultimately serves up a very “meh” film. Ishana Night Shyamalan has the makings of a visually talented director, but moving forward, she’s going to need a tighter narrative and richer character development to craft something more compelling and impactful.

Overall, it’s better than some of M. Night Shyamalan’s recent work, but The Watchers still misses the mark. And, sadly, it ends up being more frustrating than frightening.

The Watchers Movie Review

Grade: D


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