Ishana Shyamalans Movie Loses Direction
source: indiewire.com

Ishana Shyamalans Movie Loses Direction

Ishana Shyamalan’s Movie Loses Direction

April 22, 2024 @ 10:03 AM

Ishana Night Shyamalan’s debut feature film, “The Watchers,” has been eagerly anticipated by horror-thriller enthusiasts. Based on A. M. Shine’s novel, the film stars Dakota Fanning as a young woman who gets lost in the woods with her pet parrot. The trailer, which has just been released, promises a spine-chilling experience. However, the final product seems to have lost its way.

In “The Watchers,” Fanning’s character, Mina, finds herself in a forest that swallows anyone who enters. She takes refuge in a bunker with three other captives, played by Olwen Fouéré, Georgina Campbell, and Oliver Finnegan. They reveal that they are being watched by otherworldly beings. The premise is intriguing, but the execution falls short.

Shyamalan, who has previously worked on her father M. Night Shyamalan’s projects like “Servant” and “Old,” expressed her excitement about making her first feature film. She admitted that the process was challenging but rewarding. Despite her father’s guidance and reassurance, the film struggles to find its footing.

The film’s inspiration from Hayao Miyazaki’s work is evident in its magical and emotive elements. Shyamalan mentioned that Miyazaki’s films are sacred to her and have influenced her storytelling. However, the film’s attempt to blend horror with a magical journey feels disjointed.

“The Watchers” follows Mina, an antisocial pet-store clerk, who gets lost in a mysterious forest while delivering a rare parrot. She takes shelter in a building called the Coop, where she meets other captives. Every night, they are watched by creatures through a two-way mirror. The film’s symbolism, including doubles and mimics, feels forced and lacks depth.

Dakota Fanning’s performance as Mina is underwhelming. Her character’s lack of development makes it difficult for the audience to connect with her. The film’s emotional beats fall flat, and Fanning’s portrayal feels apathetic.

The film’s visuals, shot by Eli Arenson, are one of its few strengths. The gothic vegetation of eastern Ireland and the brutalist design of the Coop create a haunting atmosphere. However, the special effects are subpar, and the horror tropes are overused and uninspired.

“The Watchers” lacks genuine scares. The most frightening scene is its opening, where a man falls from a tree. The film’s mild horror may appeal to those who can’t handle intense scares, but it fails to get under the skin.

The film’s pacing is another issue. The story drags, and the characters’ actions often feel contrived. The plot’s twists and turns are predictable, and the final act is unsatisfying. The film’s attempt to stretch an unsatisfying twist into a whole act feels forced and unnecessary.

Despite its flaws, “The Watchers” has moments of visual interest. The Irish landscape and the Coop’s design are captivating. However, these elements are not enough to save the film from its lackluster storytelling.

Shyamalan’s film flirts with rich themes but fails to explore them fully. The parallels between the characters’ situations and the reality show they watch are intriguing but underdeveloped. The film’s potential is wasted on a story that lacks substance.

The performances of the supporting cast, including Olwen Fouéré, Georgina Campbell, and Oliver Finnegan, are commendable. They bring depth to their characters, but their efforts are overshadowed by the film’s shortcomings.

“The Watchers” is a serviceable but soulless horror film. It borrows heavily from other films without adding anything new. The film’s atmosphere evaporates whenever the special effects take center stage, and the horror tropes are deployed without flair.

In conclusion, Ishana Shyamalan’s debut feature film, “The Watchers,” loses its direction. Despite its promising premise and compelling imagery, the film fails to deliver a satisfying horror experience. The lack of genuine scares, underdeveloped characters, and predictable plot make it a forgettable addition to the genre. “The Watchers” hits theaters on June 14, but it may not be worth the watch.