The Watchers Review

The Watchers Review: The Critics Are Wrong About This One

Major horror releases so far in 2024 have been a mixture of disappointments (i.e. Night Swim) and exceptional (The First Omen). And with the latest horror release, The Watchers, critics are rating it amongst the disappointments with an initial rating of 25%. While we are usually in agreement with most critic ratings, this is one we can't agree with.

The Watchers, adapted and directed by Ishana Night Shyamalan, is about a woman named Mina who finds herself lost in a forest after her car breaks down and is helped by three strangers, who are visited each night by unknown creatures. Mina, played by Dakota Fanning, is reluctant to believe in what she cannot see and goes against "the rules" set by the group's leader, Madeline (Olwen Fouéré). The group then finds themselves experiencing the worst of what the creatures are capable of and work together to attempt an escape.

Based on the book of the same name by A.M. Shine, The Watchers, is a terror filled, whimsical fantasy that relies heavily on the fear of the unknown. But that isn't a bad thing- until we see the creatures, that is. Shyamalan's visuals lack the same fear evoked in the book and this brings to question just how well books like these translate to film.

From the yellows, to the oranges and deep blues, Shyamalan's use of color theory is evident throughout the film. She has a great eye and that's clear in the cinematography. Technically, this film is beautiful and well crafted but things falter when it comes to the actual story. Even with an hour and 42 minute runtime, this often felt like a clunky film. There is more lore and character development needed to give it the depth that it is missing. She is trying to give us a lot in a small amount of time, and we can feel that. There isn't a lot of room for the story to breathe, which makes us feel somewhat detached.

Mina, Madeline, Daniel and Ciara are put on display for The Watchers each night. Madeline encourages them to be themselves yet Mina, who we saw earlier in the film putting on a wig and pretending to be a ballerina, doesn't know who she really is because like the parrot she carries with her, she's mimicked others around her. Shyamalan plays this up with various aspects she added that aren't in the book. This added layer might have been to the detriment of the film, though I can see where she was attempting to add more depth and themes of how people have become mimics of what we see on television and social media. I can't help but wonder if she bit off more than she could chew with that.

Even with all of that, this film is leagues ahead of Night Swim, which was very clearly a cash grab by Blumhouse. While The Watchers is not a perfect film, there is a lot to appreciate and Ishana Night Shyamalan gave us a film that had much more substance than many of the recent major horror releases. I do think it's different and much more of a fantasy thriller with some horror themes, which is why I feel like it might not resonate well with some audiences. Overall, The Watchers was beautiful, full of good tension and suspense, and had some extremely creepy moments.

AJ and I do have a spoiler free review on our YouTube channel so be sure to check that out!



Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.