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The Forest Holds Secrets: Ishana Night Shyamalan Explores Irish Folklore in “The Watchers”

Discover the secrets of the forest in Ishana Night Shyamalan's horror-thriller, "The Watchers," featuring Dakota Fanning. In cinemas June 12, 2024.

Ishana Night Shyamalan, captivated by A.M. Shine’s novel “The Watchers,” found a wellspring of inspiration that ignited her debut feature film. Now, the enthralling horror-thriller, starring Dakota Fanning, unfolds the mysteries hidden within Irish folklore.

Perfect Pairing: A Book and Its Adaptation

Producer M. Night Shyamalan praises the natural synergy between Ishana and the novel. “Ishana—who wrote a lot of the episodes of ‘Servant’ and directed several of them—has a fantasy bent in her interests. ‘The Watchers’ is an amazing book for her to adapt. She read it and fell in love, and wanted to both write and direct it. It was a very wonderful, organic way that it came about.”

Embracing Irish Folklore

The film leans heavily into the Irish folklore elements that the novel embodies. “I think our basis was A.M. Shine’s inspiration and expertise in Irish folklore, which really informed and excited all of us—he was referencing ancient storytellers. We were taking his knowledge and then making it a contemporary thriller,” M. Night explains. “It was lovely to learn the origins were really in Ireland, with the kind of dark insinuations in them—I think the beautiful part about the Grimms’ fairy tales is the darkness underneath it.”

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Themes of Womanhood and Family

In “The Watchers,” the intense themes of womanhood and family are seamlessly intertwined. “As a young woman, it’s kind of inevitable that the ideas of femininity, womanhood and motherhood are imbued into the things that I write. And that very much became the center of the story, which to me is a mother/daughter story between the characters of Madeline and Mina,” Ishana says. “But this is not just for a female audience; it feels very muscular, bold, fearsome and strong. All the women in this film are all of those things. They’re very powerful. I hope it transcends stereotypes a bit.”

A Universal Tale

Despite its specific Irish setting, Ishana aims to tell a universally relatable story. “There are family dynamics and human relationships at the center of everything. In the film, they’re really a family. Despite the fantasy, thriller and horror elements, and everything around them, I think it’s really about how people relate to each other and how to find a way to be connected in a world that’s really tough to be connected in,” she explains.

A Stellar Cast and Crew

The film stars Dakota Fanning, Georgina Campbell, Oliver Finnegan, and Olwen Fouere. It is produced by M. Night Shyamalan, Ashwin Rajan, and Nimitt Mankad, with executive producers Jo Homewood and Stephen Dembitzer. Behind the scenes, the talented crew includes director of photography Eli Arenson, production designer Ferdia Murphy, editor Job ter Burg, and costume designer Frank Gallacher. The music is composed by Abel Korzeniowski.

About “The Watchers”

From producer M. Night Shyamalan comes “The Watchers,” written and directed by Ishana Night Shyamalan, based on the novel by A.M. Shine. The story follows Mina, a 28-year-old artist stranded in a vast forest in western Ireland. Seeking shelter, Mina becomes trapped with three strangers, stalked by unseen creatures each night.

Prepare to be captivated as “The Watchers” unravels its secrets in Philippine cinemas on June 12. Engage with us online using the hashtags #TheWatchers and #AreYouWatching.

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Movie Info

The Watchers
Horror, Mystery, Thriller
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