Friday, June 7, 2024

'The Watchers': Moody but that's it


Steeped in mysterious folklore and dodging in and out of the shadows of an Irish forest, The Watchers marks the feature debut of Ishana Night Shyamalan, the daughter of M. Night Shyamalan. (M. Night served as one of the movie’s producers.) The set-up goes something like this: The owner of a Galway pet shop asks one of his employees (Dakota Fanning) to deliver a parrot to a customer in Belfast. Fanning's Mina drives through the countryside with the parrot, possibly the film's most interesting character, but loses her way upon entering a forbidding forest. Mina soon finds herself trapped in a bunker-like cabin with three strangers (Georgina Campbell, Olwen Fouere, and Oliver Finnegan), none of whom have been able to escape the forest. Each night, creatures dubbed The Watchers gather to observe those who are trapped in The Coop, which is what this forest redoubt is called. The Watchers view these unlucky characters through a two-way mirror that serves as one of the walls of this strange one-room outpost. Shyamalan's screenplay, an adaptation of a novel by A.M. Shine,  gives Mina a backstory, but for much of its one-hour and 42-minute running time, the movie tries to build suspense with sound design and by offering quick glimpses of The Watchers. The approach is too familiar to create much excitement, and the movie's drawn-out conclusion offers a far-fetched serving of mythology, as well as the introduction of a new character (John Lynch)The Watchers has some atmospheric richness but the characters aren’t intriguing and the movie’s mixture of fairy-tale and horror tropes proves difficult to swallow.

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