I Liked Ishana Night Shyamalan’s The Watchers, But Cannot Get These Unanswered Questions Out Of My Head

Major spoiler below for the horror thriller The Watchers, so tread through the forest carefully if you haven’t yet watched.

Before drilling down into the questions that have themselves been drilled down into my own brain, I want to make two things quite clear. First, I think The Watchers is a fun, spooky, and interesting movie from first-time feature director Ishana Shyamalan — read my review here — and agree with other critics’ overall assessment that she showcases some of her father M. Night Shyamalan’s talents. I want this movie to get big box office numbers. So I’m not attacking what’s there, but more needlessly obsessing over what isn’t there.

My second point: I do realize that Ishana Shyamalan’s based The Watchers on the novel of the same name written by A.M. Shine, and that the source material also doesn’t answer the majority of the questions I have about the adaptation. So there’s no blame being thrown around. I just want some clear answers before I start doing my own research in a cursed forest. Now let’s get to drilling.

Mina's car driving down unpaved road through the forest in The Watchers

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Why Didn’t Mina Leave The Woods The Same Way She Came In?

Sheer logic dictates that if Mina was able to get from her broken vehicle to The Coop in a span of time that didn’t leave her a victim to the forests’ creatures, then she should have been able to backtrack her way to safety between dawn and dusk without issue. Even if it took a few tries for her to remember precisely where she came from, it was realistically possible, and should have been her first priority.

Mina's car radio malfunctioning and depicting runes in The Watchers

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Did All The Runes Mean Anything?

When Mina’s car goes kaput after breaching the no-more-power barrier, her car radio starts glitching out, with what appear to be five different rune symbols showing up. As far as I can tell, the specific order of symbols shown doesn’t translate into anything meaningful, though I can’t speak to my expertise in the slightest.

Then later in the movie, whenever the Watchers kill Danny, one of them scratches a different symbol into his forehead before things get bloody. Was that symbol important, and did it show up elsewhere?

Mina pressing her ear against the mirrored wall of The Coop in The Watchers

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Why Didn’t The Coop’s Window Always Reflect The Inside?

I was visibly shocked during the relatively few moments in The Watchers where characters were standing inside, and the woodsy outdoors were visible. Because at any other point, that window is unbelievably reflective for a surface that isn’t claiming itself as a mirror. Mina should be able to cup her hands around her eyes and see something out there without the Coop’s overhead light being an obstruction. But there’s not a single weak spot in the reflection at any point after the door is closed.

Mina, Madeline, and Ciara seen from behind watching TV monitors showing The Professor's video recordings in The Watchers

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Why Did EMP Issues Only Go So Far, Yet Didn’t Affect The Coop?

It’s baffling to the point of being irresponsible that The Watchers doesn’t make it abundantly clear why The Coop’s electricity is intact both above and below the ground, and yet everything else outside of that specific area is rendered useless. I would have probably been critical had the Professor’s video detailed him inventing some kind of magical elixir that he spread around all the edges of The Coop to keep its electrical equipment safe from outside threats, but it would have been something.

Ciara, Mina, Danny and Madeline lined up at the window of The Coop looking outside in The Watchers

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

How Was The Coop Built Without Heavy Machinery?

One of The Watchers‘ most successfully stomach-turning moments was the reveal that the Professor full-on sacrificed all of the people who helped him construct The Coop. Great moment, truly. But what that explanation was absolutely missing was how unofficial construction crew brought any excavation equipment or building supplies to that location without being able to drive.

Even if the idea was that the underground bunker was built into one of the Watchers’ tunnel hubs, eliminating the need for any humans to dig all that up, it would have taken a huge amount of effort and a slew of back-and-forth trips to get all the materials needed to make The Coop a reality. There should have been all kinds of leftover tools and equipment either in the bunker or seen in the tunnels.

A bulletin board filled with missing posters and messages about missing families in The Watchers

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Where Do All Those Missing People Factor In?

I can easily grasp that the missing posters and notices shown were at some point likely dedicated to the people who went missing after helping the Professor with The Coop, but that board clearly indicates that wouldn’t account for everyone. Whole families went missing, and at different dates over time. But did any of those other people spent time inside The Coop with Madeline? Or were they all victims of the Watchers that never came across the semi-safe haven? Whatever the case, why didn’t Mina and others find way more random evidence of all those people, such as a cavern filled with old shoes and backpacks, outside of a pile of bones?

Danny and Ciara pulling the rug from on top of the hatch door in The Coop in The Watchers

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

How Didn’t Anyone Find The Professor’s Underground Hatch Before Mina?

Maybe this is just because I enjoy escape rooms and puzzle games, but I assumed that as soon as any new person was invited into The Coop, they took at least a half-afternoon to look at every single inch of the room, including the floor they walk on. But it took Mina’s bonkers idea to map the forest out on the floor for the group to reach the point where they moved the central rug for the very first time. I could definitely understand if Madeline was attempting to keep the others from finding it, but that didn’t seem to be one of her larger concerns.

Mina and Madeline standing inside The Coop in The Watchers

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Why Didn’t Madeline Leave The Woods With Anyone Before Mina?

I’m totally clueless about Madeline’s whole situation, honestly. I can imagine that she may have had a variety of victims prior to Danny’s arrival in which she honed her human-mimicking skills. But I don’t understand why she didn’t seem to have attempted an escape from the forest before Mina arrived. Especially after seeing that she had wings the whole time!

I get that they only found out about the boat after going through the Professor’s stuff, but Madeline didn’t need a boat. And considering she lived amongst the others for however long, Madeline should have been able to go out after dark without the threat of being attacked, so she should have been able to find the boat herself, or the road that Mina and others drove in on, without the need for other humans to be with her.

TV showing a Watcher pretending to be John bendng over and looking into the camera in The Watchers

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

How Did The Watchers Mimic People They Never Witnessed?

Ciara’s doomed husband John was The Watchers showing audiences exactly how skilled its faeries are at mimicking human beings, and it made sense why they could do such a good job, given they attacked him and took his body underground. But none of them ever met the Professor’s wife, who was revealed to have died before he went off on his research project. So how was Madeline able to mimic her with such precision? It’s possible the halfling didn’t actually sound like the Professor’s wife, since we never actually hear her speak, but are we meant to believe that John Lynch’s character was showing the creature a bunch of pictures of his wife so that it could take her form? If that’s the case, can they also mimic impressionist art and non-living objects?

I also recall seeing Mina and her sister running through the woods at some point, but admittedly can’t recall if that was 100% the Watchers, or if it was Mina just seeing things. If it was the former, then that would be an even more glaring example.

I can’t lie. I have even more questions about what went on, such as how so many of those birds reacted the exact same way at the exact same time every single day, evolution be damned. Or why the Professor needed so many TV monitors if the point wasn’t to watch footage from spread-out cameras. But hey, that’s just movie magic, amirite?

The Watchers is in theaters now, with M. Night Shyamalan’s Trap among many upcoming horror movies on the 2024 release schedule.

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