The Watched – The DVDfever Cinema Review – Dakota Fanning

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The Watched is The Breakfast Club in a forest.

Except that it’s not just a Saturday that they have to spend in there, but the rest of their lives, it appears, as one by one, the inhabitants of the den that’s referred to as The Coop, have ended up in this strange place, each after wandering off the beaten track and being inexplicably unable to escape.

There aren’t many of them, but Daniel’s (Oliver Finnegan) been in for longer than Ciara (Georgina CampbellBird Box Barcelona), who’s also become separated from her husband, John (Alistair Brammer), who’s ended up out there somewhere for a few days, that’s if he’s still alive… and with ‘the watchers’ surrounding the place, if you don’t make it back by sunset, you’re not getting back in.

The latest uninvited guest to the place where time stands still is Mina (Dakota FanningRipley), along with her loud parrot, whose car broke down very inconveniently (Mina’s car, not that parrot. Parrots can’t drive… not that we know of). It’s bad timing, too, since she’s fairly estranged from her sister, Lucy, and they’ve just reached the 15th anniversary of their mother’s death.

But as for however long Madeline’s been there, no-one knows. What I do now, however, is that Olwen Fouéré, who plays her, just takes the role of ‘creepy old woman’ in EVERYTHING!… most recently, Tarot and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022.

Surely, the answer is to just “go back the way you came“, as Kevin suggested in Time Bandits, but alas, this forest has ‘Point of No Return’ notices, put up in every direction, meaning if you get that far and try to move further, you’ve zero chance of making it back to the coop before nightfall.

So, what happens after nightfall? That’s when the watchers come out. They’re incredibly noisy, yet no-one ever sees them, although… slight spoiler…

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

When left to their own devices, and with no phone to pick up and call the party animal, they have nothing to do in their coop, but watch “Lair of Love” on DVD, over and over – basically, the equivalent of Big Brother, and just as tedious. In fact, their situation is like Big Brother… but not quite that bad.

Will they ever escape? Or will they be confined forever, like Sapphire and Steel in that ’60s cafe at the end of the last episode? Either way, there’s lots of weird shit happening, as you’d expect, including a number of jump scares that don’t make you jump, and it’s far from a great experience.

If this sounds like the sort of plot from a M. Night Shyamalan movie, then a whole quarter century after 1999’s The Sixth Sense – the point where he came to the fore, the Watchers also marks the feature-length debut for his daughter, Ishana Night Shyamalan.

As an aside, I wondered where Dakota Fanning’s character was meant to hail from, since she sounds Irish at first, then American. The film is set in Galway, so it’s not clear whether she’s putting it on, initially, while chatting to a guy in a bar.

Now, about that title. The film is “The Watched“, but it often gets misnamed as “The Watchers“. Well, one is watching the other, but even Odeon got things mixed up, as their own Google listings – linking to their own site where you can book – gets it wrong.

But then Odeon haven’t got a clue was an aspect ratio is, or when a screen is out of focus, and then blame you for them having to think about it.

The Watched is in cinemas now, and is available to pre-order on Blu-ray and DVD, ahead of its release date TBA.

The Watched – Official Trailer – Warner Bros

Detailed specs:

Running time: 102 minutes
Release date: June 7th 2024
Studio: Warner Bros
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Cinema: Odeon Trafford Centre
Rating: 5/10

Director: Ishana Night Shyamalan
Producers: Nimitt Mankad, Ashwin Rajan, M Night Shyamalan
Screenplay: Ishana Night Shyamalan
Novel: AM Shine
Music: Abel Korzeniowski

Mina: Dakota Fanning
Ciara: Georgina Campbell
Madeline: Olwen Fouéré
Daniel: Oliver Finnegan
John: Alistair Brammer
Kilmartin: John Lynch
Mother: Siobhan Hewlett
Young Mina: Hannah Dargan
Young Lucy: Emily Dargan
Darwin: Joel Figueroa
Watcher (voice): Seán T Ó Meallaigh