Dakota Fanning Leans into the Mysterious in Horror-Thriller ‘The Watchers’

“When Dakota came in, she brought this kind of texture with who she is, which is this effortless cool girl. She put the last piece into place and made Mina real for us,” writer-director Ishana Night Shyamalan shares how actress Dakota Fanning came into her feature debut “The Watchers” and transformed as the main character, Mina. Mina gets caught in an enclosure with a group of strangers, deep within the forests of Ireland. Mysterious creatures start visiting them every night, and the film follows the journey of unraveling what the creatures want and why the group is being watched.

Mina was a work in progress throughout the formation of the film. “Building Mina was an interesting process, because I think she didn’t really exist in full until we began shooting,” Shyamalan explains. “She was slightly ambiguous to me but Mina represents the audience: she speaks to being young in this modern world. I think in a lot of ways, she represents the cynicism and dissociation that a lot of us feel nowadays.”

Fanning lays out what she understands about the role she was tasked to perform, and parallels between her and Mina. “Mina is a young person who’s in this stagnant period of her life; she’s searching for something and stumbles upon this supernatural experience. But, I could relate to this phase of the “in between” in a young woman’s life,” she says. “You’re not super young and you’re not older either, trying to figure out who you are and what you want to do. I could see that in the character and, in speaking to Ishana, I think we both could relate to that.”Fanning goes deeper into the mystery of “The Watchers” and the other characters trapped with Mina in the coop. “Mina first comes across the other characters by getting basically sucked into this forest and stumbling upon what she later figures out is called the coop, which is this strange structure—she’s pulled in, the door is locked, and she meets these three characters,” she says. “There’s almost a cult-like feeling and it’s confusing—there are these strange rules that she has to abide by. The situation is kind of unexplainable—Madeline [Olwen Fouéré], Ciara [Georgina Campbell], and Daniel [Oliver Finnegan] almost can’t even explain it either, which is even more disconcerting for Mina.”

Overall, Fanning anticipates that “The Watchers” would bring something exciting for audiences into horror and thrillers. “I think it’ll definitely appeal to thriller lovers and horror lovers. It has so many of those aspects. There’s also this psychological element to it—I think for a lot of the movie you’re not even sure what you’re scared of, but you know you’re scared,” she says. “I love films like that. It has so many different aspects of a thriller and of a horror film—just the right amount of scares and gore and violence—but also subtlety. And mixed in with it all is some Irish folklore. It’s a wonderful combination.”

Unravel the mystery when The Watchers arrives in Philippine cinemas on June 12.

About “The Watchers”

From producer M. Night Shyamalan comes “The Watchers,” written and directed by Ishana Night Shyamalan and based on the novel by A.M. Shine. The film follows Mina, a 28-year-old artist, who gets stranded in an expansive, untouched forest in western Ireland. When Mina finds shelter, she unknowingly becomes trapped alongside three strangers who are watched and stalked by mysterious creatures each night.

You can’t see them, but they see everything.

“The Watchers” stars Dakota Fanning (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Ocean’s Eight”), Georgina Campbell (“Barbarian,” “Suspicion”), Oliver Finnegan (“Creeped Out,” “Outlander”) and Olwen Fouere (“The Northman,” “The Tourist”). The film is produced by M. Night Shyamalan, Ashwin Rajan and Nimitt Mankad. The executive producers are Jo Homewood and Stephen Dembitzer.

Joining writer/director Shyamalan behind-the-camera are director of photography Eli Arenson (“Lamb,” “Hospitality”), production designer Ferdia Murphy (“Lola,” “Finding You”), editor Job ter Burg (“Benedetta,” “Elle”) and costume design by Frank Gallacher (“Sebastian,” “Aftersun”). The music is by Abel Korzeniowski (“Till,” “The Nun”).

In cinemas June 12, 2024, “The Watchers” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Discovery company.

Join the conversation online and use the hashtag #TheWatchers #AreYouWatching

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