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The Watchers

I was hoping that if Ishana Night Shyamalan had watched her father M. Night's films for inspiration in writing/directing her first film, that she had watched some of his great films.

"Unbreakable", "Signs", "The Sixth Sense" all come to mind.

Alas, she seems to have watched "The Lady in the Water" and "The Village" as her roadmap for the dull mess that is THE WATCHERS.

Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds, I Am Sam) has been a great actress for years, but she's given very little logical to do as damaged artist Mina. She works at an Ireland pet shop and appears to spend most of her day sketching customers and vaping.

Her boss asks her to deliver a rare bird to a Zoo in Western Ireland and she agrees to do so the next day.

The night before she leaves, she changes her appearance and goes out on the town for a one night stand. The following morning she admonishes herself in the rear view mirror of her car. Why? It's a question that just sits there and never gets answered.

Soon, her car conks out in the middle of a massive, imposing forest.

But only after strange symbols appear on her dashboard and her iPhone. Huh?

Here is where I started to roll my eyes, as many of her choices are so dumb and predictable it's as if she's never seen a horror movie.

Question 1: for the last five minutes of her drive, where the hell is she going? Is that even a road?

Question 2: When your car breaks down and you decide to "just walk it" shouldn't you stay on what there was of a "road"? No, lets just wander off into the massive forest and get lost in about ten seconds.

As you've seen in every trailer, she soon hurries into what appears to be a bunker in the middle of the trees. A fish tank where "The Watchers" gather every night at sundown to observe the humans within.

OK. Interesting premise, but what does Ishana do with it?

Will this be a "Lost" like mystery with twists and turns and lots of suspense as we figure out what exactly is going on? Other than one hatch that just served to remind me mid-film just how much better "Lost" was, nope.

Instead, the other people in the bunker serve as mouth pieces for endless exposition in which we learn the rules of the hive, hub, fish tank, whatever.

Poor Olwen Fouere (The Northman) is buried in another 2024 film after her recent scene stealing turn in "Tarot", as the eldest of the captive people, Madeline. She is saddled with most of the endless dialogue that lays out rule after rule about The Watchers.

Oliver Finnegan (Outlander) plays Daniel, a young man who seems harmless one moment, childish the next and dangerous the next, all in service of the pedestrian screenplay by Ishana, based on the book by A.M. Shine.

Georgina Campbell (Barbarian) has the best role (and does the most with it) as Ciara, whose husband has been gone from captivity for six days. At least her emotions and reactions seem the most sincere.

Poor Fanning seems determined to cloak any emotion for most of the film.

The last half hour of the film features a lot of reveals and surprises, but none that carry any dramatic weight. The sparse audience around me in the theater joined me in just riding it out to its lackluster conclusion.

M. Night knows how to stage suspense. Think about all the moments in "The Sixth Sense" that kept you on the edge of your seat. Remember how many times in "Signs" you were tensed up waiting for that alien to come out of the cornfield?

Alas, that DNA does not appear to have been passed on to his daughter.

Without any suspense, scares or excitement, THE WATCHERS is like sitting at your desk watching the second hand of the clock tick toward 5:00.

It gets a dumb, dull D.

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