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How The Watchers Explores Irish Folklore to Amplify Its Frights

Producer M. Night Shyamalan, a name every horror fan is familiar with, presents The watchersled by a name you will soon learn: Ishana Night Shyamalan. The characteristic of the Server the filmmaker is based on the book by AM Shine; It follows Dakota Fanning as Mina, an artist who gets lost in a mysterious, untouched Irish forest.

Mina is invited to a shelter with three strangers, led by Madeline (Olwen Fouéré), all trapped by supernatural creatures known as the Watchers, who demand performances from their human captives every night. io9 recently spoke with director Ishana Shyamalan and Georgina Campbell, who plays one of the other captives.

Sabina Graves, io9: Ishana, I’m a folklore reader and I loved the film’s spooky fantasy story approach. What came first for you: the desire to tackle mythology or the novel that inspired the film?

Ishana Shyamalan: (Mythology) is incorporated into the book, but it was largely that element, the kind of folklore, that made me sure I wanted to do this book. I thought it was such a cool kind of mythology that I hadn’t really seen. And like you, I’m obsessed with thinking about and reading folklore, so it seemed perfect.

io9: We won’t reveal the nature of the forest creatures, but I thought they were super creepy and scary. Were the concepts completed during filming or did the cast have to imagine them?

Georgina Campbell: It was imagined. Yes, it was something imagined.

Shyamalan: I had sent each of them a kind of lookbook beforehand with sketches, like very rough sketches, of what they would look like. But she wanted to keep it as mysterious as possible for them. And, for me, it was about this kind of family dynamic at the center, where they’re going around and around each other and afraid of even the possibility of something abroad. I think that helped us keep it in a grounded space.

io9: The group actually goes through it in the forest and is barely separated from each other. What was it like creating the dynamic between these strangers who need to rely on each other to survive?

Shyamalan: I think I just happened to find these four electric actors who are all so specific and have their own quality of being, and they’re so optimistic and fantastic. It was largely about the chemistry of the family dynamic. So, mother, sisters, brother, that kind of feeling and playing with people that I felt could bring it out in each other.

The watchers

Image: New line of cinema

Campbell: Actually, it’s all in the script. I feel like all the women, Olwen (was) so enigmatic, and you are captivated by her. When she’s on set, the way she talks, the way she’s very passionate, that fits with the idea that her character is the leader and what everyone looks up to. And then obviously Dakota comes in and she’s kind of an outsider. She is the new person who arrives. Building the relationship with her during filming was really interesting. It was great to work with both of them.

io9: What was the best part about evoking that kind of classic fairy tale journey in the woods while filming? Was it intentional during filming?

Shyamalan: I was really drawn to the Grimm’s kind of fairy tale structure. And I thought it was cool to play with that classic approach to storytelling, where it’s like a very clean story of a character coming into a world, and then it just expands and expands and expands. So, to me, the style of the film pays homage to a sort of classic gothic fairy tale.

Campbell: In most scenes we are all together. So it was really about the ensemble. It’s about all of us, what is happening to all of us? How do we all feel? It was a lot of fun to play with that. (Ishana) was very intelligent, she knew exactly what she wanted. She came very prepared but she’s also very open to listening to people’s opinions, listening to your idea, which is wonderful when you can have that exchange.

The watchers opens this Friday, June 7.

Want more io9 news? See when to expect the latest Wonderful and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe in film and televisionand everything you need to know about Dragon House and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.



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