FILM REVIEWS:

BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE (USA 2024) **
Directed by Adil & Bilall

 

The ghost of Captain Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano) plays two parts in the film RIDEOR DIE.  Firstly, he is the reason for the film’s title RIDE OR DIE.  Ride or die is a colloquial expression indicating extreme loyalty to someone or something.  The late Captain Conrad is accused of drug trafficking but the bad boys Mike and Marcus believe him to be innocent and go about proving his innocence at all costs, thus riding or dying.  Secondly, the ghost tells Marcus in a vision, while he is suffering a heart attack, that his time has not come yet, which results in Marcus attempting death-defying stunts believing that he cannot die.

After the wedding of Detective Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Christine, his physical therapist, Mike and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), his partner and fellow detective, investigate corruption within the Miami Police Department: their late Captain Conrad Howard is posthumously accused of being involved with drug cartels. Mike and Marcus ask Armando Aretas, Mike's son, in jail for having murdered Howard,[a] and he tells them that he is positive Howard was not corrupt and that he can identify the man who ordered their superior's murder as he remembers his face. Howard has left clues behind and they want Armando to run through them to possibly find the mysterious man. While they transfer Armando to Miami on a helicopter, Mike and Marcus are set up in the process and, although they survive an attack and the subsequent helicopter crash, they are considered fugitives by the police, the manhunt being led by U.S. Marshal Judy Howard (Captain Howard's daughter). Not only that, they are eventually being hunted by every criminal gang in Miami.  And the story goes on to the final reel when the Bad Boys solve the case.

Duo their credit, directors Adil and Billall (Belgian film and TV directors) do their utmost best to keep their film moving at a brief pace.  They also directed the last BAD BOYS film BAD BOYS FOR LIFE in 2020 and this film is a directed sequel to it.

BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE is the BAD BOYS franchise's 4th installment.  One would think that enough is enough and truth be told, the franchise has run out of ideas.  The camaraderie of the two cops is pushed to the limit again but their friendship prevails.

There are hardly any surprises in this installment.  The cameo surprises of Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig and D.J. Khaled (who appears for a mere minute) do not help much.  One would wonder if this film will make money and whether Will Smith’s disastrous act of slapping Chris Rock will affect the box-office potential of the film.  The film even so far as to have Will Smith’s Mike Lowry slapped three times by Martin Lawrence in one scene, which did not get much response from the audience of the screening I attended.

BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE opens only in theatres on June 7th.

 

 

BASMA (Saudi Arabia 2024) ***
Directed by Fatima Al-Banawi

 

The film title BASMA is the name of the film’s protagonist, a young woman arriving back from the United States to her home in Saudi Arabia after graduating.  It is also after the Pandemic and she has not seen her family for a full two years.  Her sister’s children have grown.  Basma cut her hair short before her arrival.  But there are family secrets in store for her.  Her family has kept news from Basma, much to her consternation  The film is a family drama.

Basma returns home right at the celebration of Eid.  Eid is the time the family celebrate giving each other presents.  For those unfamiliar with Eid, Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice is the second of the two main holidays celebrated in Islam. In Islamic tradition, it honours the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God's command.  Both Ishmael and Isaac are referred to with the honorific title "Sacrifice of God”.  In the house, the first thing Basma notices is that there are no signs of dad.  Basma’s father and mother have divorced (not common in the Islamic religion) and the father has moved out of the house,  The family did not inform Basma as they were afraid that the information might distract her from her PhD degree.  Basma is as expected furious.  She loves her father and can’t understand the reason the family ditched him.  But her father is suffering from an illness.  In desperation, Basma moves in with her father who suffers from paranoid delusions.  He has the windows of of his run-down apartment in which he stays alone all covered up in newspaper.

There are two plusses going for this Saudi Arabian family drama.  Firstly, unless one is Arabic or Muslim, there are a lot of practices and mores that North Americans are unfamiliar with, and these that are revealed (like Eid) on screen are both intriguing interesting as well as educational.  Secondly, Saudi Arabia and all its modernity can be witnessed, from the ultra-modern airport to the high-rise buildings as well as the beautiful sea surrounding the city.  The film is set in the city of Jeddah on the Red Sea’s eastern shore. 

There are very few films from Saudi Arabia, partly due to the fact there are no theatre no cinema complexes in the country.  The cinema of Saudi Arabia is a fairly small industry that only produces a few feature films and documentaries every year. Theatres were closed after religious activism in the 1980s. Saudis wishing to watch films have done so via satellite, DVD, or video.  

Despite the mentioned plusses, BASMA offers nothing fresh that has not been seen in one form or another in an American film.  Basma has to deal with her dysfunctional family during a celebration (It is usually Christmas or Thanksgiving in a Hollywood film.)   Basma has a romantic fling with her childhood best friend.

Al-Banawi wrote, directed and stars as BASMA, which opens for streaming on Netflix this week.

Trailer: 

COTTONTAIL (UK/Japan 2022) **

Directed by Patrick Dickinson

 

The premise of the film COTTONTAIL involves a widower and his son travelling from Japan to England's Lake District to scatter his wife's ashes there, as she grew up loving the stories of Beatrix Potter.  Potter was based there.

The widower Ken (Lily Franky) comes across his dead wife’s letter involving a request for the scattering of her ashes.  His estranged son, Toshin (Rio Nishikido) insists on coming along and ends up with his wife and himself travelling with his father to England.  Ken is not too pleased.

It is never made clear the reason the film is called COTTONTAIL  The word cottontail can take several meanings and one of them is rude.  But it also refers to a kind of rabbit as well as the name of the youngest sister of Peter Rabbit in the Beatrice Potter Peter Rabbit books.  The Lake District reference is that it is the place where Beatrice Potter wrote her Peter Rabbit books.  (Personal note:  On my first trip to the UK. I took a train trip to the Lake District including Lake Windermere and it is a very English and pristine place.)  The Lake Windermere is a huge area and the widower has to find the exact place the wife had wanted her ashes to be scattered.  All he has is a photograph of the place.

The film is a slow burn with not much happening making the film one requiring a bit of patience.  Though veteran star Ciaran Hinds has star billing, he only appears after the hour mark and only for a brief part of the film.  Hinds plays John who Ken comes across after getting lost in traveling to Lake Windermere.  John is living with his daughter Mary (played by his real-life daughter Aoife Hinds).  John and Mary are very kind to Ken, in fact too kind for credibility, which includes John volunteering to give Ken a long drive to Lake Windermere.

There are too many coincidences such as Ken’s son suddenly meeting and appearing at the same spot of the Lake Windermere area.  Ken also finally manages later to find the exact spot in the photo.  The reconciliation between son Toshi and Ken is also a bit too convenient and looks like a cop-out happy ending.

Actor Lily Franky is too sedate in his performance to be both a father and husband in anguish.  It is also hard to believe that he would travel all on his own in an unfamiliar country like England to scatter the ashes.  Rio Nisgikido as the son Toshi also appears too patient and eager to reconcile with his father, after Ken has abandoned him and his wife to go on his own.

The big argument between Ken and Toshi occurs in the heavy rain, obviously, to emphasize the gravity of the situation, though the setup is a bit obvious,  Director Dickinson eventually guides his story to a predictable end.

COTTONTAIL is released by Level 33 Entertainment from Academy Award(R) and BAFTA Nominated Producer GABRIELLE TANA and opens exclusively in theatres on June 7th and On Demand on July 9th.

Trailer: 

EDGE OF EVERYTHING (USA 2023) ***
Directed by Sophia Sabella and Pablo Friedman

EDGE OF EVERYTHING boasts a raw coming-of-age story of a 15-year-old teen, Abby who is rebellious as hell and who does not care who she hurts as long as she gets what she wants.    Her words turn upside down when she straddles the line between childhood and adulthood when she is forced to move in with her father and his younger girlfriend after her mother's death.

Abby (Sierra McCormick) is a young girl who is on the cusp on turning 15.  Her life is thrown out of balance with the untimely passing of her mother, as shown at the start of the film.  Abby is shown putting down her mother’s friends at the funeral, unsympathetic, which prompts the audience to feel the same way about her as the protagonist,  She stays with her estranged father, David (Jason Butler Harner) and his girlfriend, Leslie (Sabina Friedman-Seitz) much to her dismay.  Her father and girlfriend try their utmost best to gain her acceptance, but Abby blames her dad for not being there for her, 

As the film progresses, Abby is seen hanging out with friends who are decent, and not as rebellious as her.  The story takes a turn when Abby meets a drunk Caroline (Ryan Simpkins) at a bar who she takes after.  Caroline does not give a f*** at anything, which is the reason Abby is attracted to her.  Her world slowly downwards spiral as she lives at the edge of everything,  Abby’s dad confronts her after his girlfriend, Leslie finds weed in Abby’s bag which causes Abby to hate the girlfriend even more.  When Abby tries coke to be cool, the audience loses all sympathy for her,

EDGE OF EVERYTHING is a difficult film to watch because directors Sophia Sabella and Pablo Friedman does not compromise Abby’s personality.  This is the director’s debut writing and directing feature and they have a bit to learn about making their film likable while tackling a tough film on a tough subject.  To the actress’ credits, McCormick and Simpkins both deliver credible and impressive performances.   When Abby finally tells Caroline off that all she does is care for herself and nobody else, which is true, Caroline runs away saying that Abby is her new best friend, which is also true.

The coming-of-age experiences include drug taking, flirting, and sex with boys and learning to choose true friends.  The females are shown in a better light than the males in the film.  All the boys that Abby, Caroline and her friends encounter are mostly idiots and care for nothing except drugs and making out.  Abby's father ends up saying the wrong things most of the time leading to his girlfriend, shown as a sort of ‘Mother Teresa’ walking out on him at one point.

My best coming-of-age films are Ken Loach’s KES set in Northern England and Francois Truffaut’s LES QUARTE CENTS COUPS (400 BLOWS) about a young lad in a French seaside town.  EDGE OF EVERYTHING also lacks to show how the film’s setting affects Abby in her behaviour.

The film opens via VOD & Leading digital platforms on June 7th, 2024.

Trailer: 

HOW TO ROB A BANK (USA 2024) ***

Directed by Seth Porges and Stephen Robert Morse

 

HOW TO ROB A BANK is a fancy title for a doc, one that opens for streaming this week on Netflix.  Truth be told, it does give audiences a few tips on how two rob a bank (checking time of day of delivery of cash to the bank, timing of police patrol cars, security setups), while also detailing the life of one of the most prolific bank robbers in the United States.  The bank robber nicknamed Hollywood is Scott Scurlock who operated in Seattle in the 1990s.  He was the most prolific bank robber in the Pacific Northwest.

Hollywood is the nickname (the FBI loves to give nicknames to bank robbers)  for this bank robber, who hits banks as if following a film script.  Hollywood, according to the film’s voiceover at the film’s beginning is one of the most wanted persons by the FBI.  They had no idea who he was or which bank he would hit best.  According to the FBI, Hollywood was a smart robber who knew the security system and how long he had been in a bank before leaving.

The setting is 1990s Seattle.  A flood of money came to Seattle from the technology boom - with a bank around every corner. 

There is a clip from the Kevin Costner film, ROBIN HOOD; PRINCE OF THIEVES (1991) as Hollywood was described as robbing the rich to give to the poor.

The doc switches, without notice to focus on another man called Scott, a muscular man who builds a tree house.  The reason is that Scott is the man called Hollywood.  Scott Scurlock (March 5, 1955 – November 28, 1996) born William Scott Scurlock in Fairfax County, Virginia was the son of a minister. He was nicknamed the Hollywood Bandit (or simply Hollywood).  He got this nickname from his involvement in bank robberies in the Seattle area during the 1990s during which he used acting makeup and disguises.  Using Hollywood quality make-up he successfully robbed 17 banks. His last attempt ended in a police shootout with Scurlock escaping the scene.  His two accomplices were captured and one gave Scurlock up. He eventually shot himself in the head as FBI agents waited outside a trailer (shades of bank robbers BONNIE AND CLYDE) he was held up in and called out to him to surrender.

Again out of the blue, the film focuses on Mark Biggins.  Biggins was a close friend of Scott who Scott helped out when Mark was in trouble with his marriage and in money.  “Move u[ here,” Scott invited Mark to live in the treehouse.  The treehouse was elaborate and had a free-range stove and a toilet.  The film then focuses on the stories of Mark Biggins and Steve Meyers, two men behind 19 confirmed bank robberies across Seattle that netted them over $2.3 million. 

The occludes interviews from key personnel.  These include friends and family members as well as members of the FBI who worked on the bank robbery case.

HOW TO ROB A BANK is an often fascinating doc on a particularly fascinating individual who robs banks as a challenge rather than for the money.  It opens for streaming this week on Netflix.

Trailer: 

LONGING (USA 2024) ***
Directed by Savi Gabizon

 

LONGING is a remake of the Israeli film of the same name.  The original was also directed by Savi Gabizon, the writer and director of this new version.  The director wanted to make a movie about his experience with his divorce  The new version has powerhouse star Richard Gere (AMERICAN GIGOLO, AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN) in the title role of the divorced Daniel.

Daniel, a wealthy New York bachelor (Richard Gere), is forced to evaluate his life choices when he discovers that a Canadian ex-girlfriend, Rachel (Suzanne Clément) had given birth to their son, Allen  (Tomaso Sanelli) after they split up 20 years ago.

When Daniel meets Rachel in a New York restaurant, Rachel reveals that his son Allen (Tomaso Sanelli) turned 19 two months ago.  “Sort of takes after you,” she says.  Since Rachel knew that Daniel didn’t want kids, she never told him she was pregnant.  But when Rachel drops another bombshell that the son has died from a car accident, Daniel decides to visit Canada (specifically Hamilton, where Allen grew up).  As Daniel meets his son’s best friend (Wayne Burns), his favourite teacher (Kruger) and his girlfriend (Jessica Clement), he’s in for even more surprises.

Director Gabizon’s film is one of awkwardness - in which there are many moments of awkwardness.  The first segment in which Daniel meets Rachel in the restaurant after a 20-year absence is indeed an awkward moment for the two.  The sparseness of dialogue and the awkwardness of their small talk emphasizes the situation, not to mention the difficulty of presenting news Rachel has for him.  Not only does she reveal that Daniel had a son but that the son had been killed in a car accident.  Then Daniel is surprised by an unexpected visit by one of his son’s best friends, Mikey (Wayne Burns) who asks him to help him pay his son’s share of a drug deal owed to a drug lord.  Daniel declines claiming that he does not want to finance a drug deal to which the young Mikey chides him for not caring as a father, who has the money but refuses to help.  “He would not be too proud of you.” are Mikey’s words to Daniel after meeting him in the hotel lobby.

The film is shot mainly in Hamilton (partially in Kitchener and Cambridge) by cinematographer Paul Sarossy which includes the familiar bridge with the church behind it, one of the town’s landmarks.  

Things get weirder when Daniel meets his son’s girlfriend who reveals more unexpected information regarding his son, Allen.  Then Daniel meets Alice (Diane Kruger), Allen’s French Literature teacher, who apparently his son has fallen in love with.

Gere plays his dramatic role with a quiet and calculated intensity that suits the mood and atmosphere of the film.  A film of self-discovery and a sort of alternative coming-of-age story of an older adult, the film has enough plot twists to keep the film both intriguing and entertaining,

LONGING opens June 7 in Toronto, Vancouver!  The film also opens on June 14 in Montreal and throughout the summer in other cities.

Trailer: 

NELMA KODAMA: THE QUEEN OF DIRTY MONEY 

(Original title: Doleira: A História de Nelma Kodama)

(Brazil 2024) ***
Directed by João Wainer

 

Nelma Kodama: The Queen of Dirty Money is a Netflix original documentary from Brazil about one of Brazil’s most notorious female criminals.  As the tone of the film title implies, the filming subject is treated in a humorous way while never diminishing the severity of the crime she committed.

Out of prison, notorious black-market currency trader Nelma Kodama (she plays herself and talks candidly about herself and her crime and is the star of the Documentarian herself) exposes her part in a major Brazilian corruption scandal.  She is under house arrest as the camera at the beginning of the film moves down her leg to reveal her ankle tracer. This is a humorous humorous to her and she goes about showing off the tracer as if it is worn in fashion.

This woman, as she admits it herself, has style and lots of it and she is not afraid to flaunt it.

Nelma Kodama is a Brazilian businesswoman who went to prison for corruption, organized crime and currency evasion during Operation Car Wash after she was caught trying to board a plane with 200 thousand euros in her underwear in Guarulhos airport (Sao Paulo).   She talks to the camera about her methods of moving money and the mechanics of it all.  How it all works appears quite simple to her, as she explains everything joyfully, but truth be told, it is not easy to understand how everything works and how she comes to make so much money.  Her tactics also involved hiring children carrying bags of money.  Funny enough, she would also get robbed.

Is she breaking the law?  She says she is not breaking any law, but that is the way things can be done by bypassing the law, which makes it illegal.

Whether Nelma is inspiring - the answer is definitely ‘maybe’- to some for her verve and success as a woman.  She comes across like a Tammy Faye or a Mrs. Imelda Marcos.  Like Imelda Marcos, she admits to loving shoes. But one must give credit to Nelma for succeeding as a female in what is a male-oriented crime syndicate.  Most of her ‘business’ colleagues are men.

As for romance, she has two lovers simultaneously.  She also describes on screen the definition of the term ‘lover’.  Her two beaus also end up in jail.  These two including other accomplishers get to share their stories on screen as well.

NELMA KODAMA: THE QUEEN OF DIRTY MONEY, in Portuguese with English subtitles, opens for streaming on Netflix this week.

Trailer: 

THE PRICE OF NONNA’S INHERITANCE (Ricchi a tutti i costi)(Italy 2024) ***

Directed by Giovanni Bognetti

 

THE PRICE OF NONNA’S INHERITANCE (Ricchi a tutti i costi) is a cheesy Italian comedy that is so silly and preposterous that it ends totally hilarious and entertaining.

The film opens with Anna meeting her old flame, Nunzio who still tries to make his moves on the married Anna.  Anna has already a husband and two thirty-something kids and her mother.  The mother has 6 million worth of inheritance that the entire family wants to grab hold of as part of their inheritance.  So imagine their distress when the grandmother announces that she has the intention of being married again after finding the love of her life.

To the family’s horror and particularly to Anna’s, the grandmother’s grand announcement of her new husband turns out to be Nunzio.  Anna is convinced that her family’s Nunzio is marrying the much older mother for her money.  So, the family comes together to commit a murder.  Can the family come together to commit a murder?  That is the question that the movie attempts to answer.

It is a silly premise, but director Giovanni Bognetti, who also wrote the script proves himself (this is his third feature) excellent at comedy,  There is a high hit-and-miss laugh ratio and the comedy centres on the typical Italian family nuances, which makes it even funnier if one is familiar with Italian culture.

Take this family dinner scene where they discuss committing the murder.

The mother says: “You have to believe we can do it as a family.  You have to believe in yourself.”

The daughter, Giuliana replies: “You always treat us like idiot children.

Apparently, Giuliana, her brother and Nunzio were at a cliff earlier in the day.

Giuliana says: “Emilio was there but did nothing.  Just like leaving the dinner table when the table needs to be cleared.”

And the mother complains about Giuliana: “She took up swimming but could not compete.  She took piano lessons but could not perform.  Now she was there but could not push him off the cliff.

Giuliana’s reply: “Murder.  It is not the same thing.”I am going to the restroom.“

Then comes the clincher as the mother laments: “It is sad to think that we cannot come together just to commit a murder.”

The comedy heightens with the arrival of Nunzio’s best man, who happens to be blind.  The family now is afraid there might be a witness to the crime.  But at least he is blind, the best type of witness says a family member.

There are a few excellent very imaginative comedic setups, thanks to a really funny script and to the director’s excellent comic timing,  One is the brother and sister/s search for a poisonous plant in order to do off with Nunzio.  The other is the family dinner segment that is already described.

The film is an easy-going, guilty pleasure that is perfect for a family to laugh it out at themselves at what a family could be.  NONNA’S INHERITANCE opens for streaming on Netflix this week.

Trailer: 

ROBOT DREAMS (Spain/France 2023) ****
Directed by Pablo Berger

 

Robot Dreams is a 2023 animated tragicomedy film written and directed by Pablo Berger. A Spanish-French co-production, it is based on the 2007 comic of the same name by Sara Varon.  It is about the friendship between a dog and a robot in New York in 1984. The film does not contain any dialogue, which means that it is accessible to any country of any language.  The characters just utter grunts, screams or make animal noises, since after all, they are animals.   As the setting is in the United States, signs are in English.

In 1980s Manhattan, Dog lives alone.  Dog does everything on his own and is a lonely dog.  The question: Are you Lonely?  pops up.  And the answer is obvious.  While watching TV, he notices an advertisement for a robot friend and immediately calls to order it. Dog receives Robot in the mail sometime later and assembles him. The two become instant friends as Dog takes Robot out to explore Manhattan. Over the course of the summer, the two become inseparable friends.  Like lifelong companions.

Near the end of summer, Dog takes Robot to the beach. After a long day of playing in the water, the pair fall asleep. Upon waking up well after all the other visitors have left, Dog realizes that the water has caused Robot to rust. Unable to move Robot, a disheartened Dog is forced to head home for the night.  Dog returns to the beach the following day to discover that the beach has been closed until June the following year, with a large barbed wire fence constructed which prevents him from reaching Robot. After being denied access to the beach by the city, Dog tries to break past the fence illegally. However, he is caught by police and is arrested. Afterward, a disheartened Dog relents to wait until he can go and rescue Robot, placing a note on his refrigerator as a constant reminder.

For an animated feature, there are quite a few obvious product placements such as Goodyear Tire and Tab drinks, making it look like a joke (there is also a company label Berger Enterprises’ - Berger is the director’s last name), soon wonders if it a joke or whether it is truly product placement.  Director Pablo loves to animate as if the camera is placed in different areas, such as inside a microwave or from the fish's point of view from under the lake water when dog is fishing.

The question is how the two will survive e after separation by fate.  Dog and his robot companion have become so close that they are companions for life with unconditional love.  When they are separated, depression sets in.  They cope in different ways.

Robot gets a makeover with spare parts and learns to bond with his new owner, helping him in painting as well as with other jobs.  For dog he engages in new activities like sledding.  The sled segment in which he runs down a black diamond hill is simply hilarious,  But during a kite flying incident, he bonds and has a girlfriend in the form of a cool duck,  But duck leaves for Europe.  Dog then copes by getting another robot a tin bot which is a floor model.

Trailer: 

ROBOT DREAMS is an amazing feel-good and fresh innovative animated feature full of rich nuanced emotions including many spirited segments like the snow sled segment in which dog rides his out-of-control self with his tiny floppy waging behind.

ROBOT DREAMS was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar and is also the winner of the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Animated Feature.

UNDER PARIS (SOUS LA SEINE) ***

Will the triathlon athletes survive as they dive into the Seine in the film’s final scene?  The answer is a big surprise proving UNDER PARIS (Sous La Seine) the best shark horror movie after Spielberg’s JAWS.

Click link below for full review:

https://toronto-franco.com/article/21-cinema-movies/409-film-review-sous-la-seine-under-paris

THE WATCHERS (The Watched) (USA 2024) ***
Directed by Ishana Night Shyamalan

  

THE WATCHERS (titled The Watched in the United Kingdom and Ireland) is a 2024 American supernatural horror film written and directed by Ishana Night Shyamalan, produced by M. Night Shyamalan, and based on the novel of the same name by A. M. Shine.

The film stars Dakota Fanning as Mina, the main character while  Georgina Campbell, Olwen Fouéré, and Oliver Finnegan play ‘the watched’.

The film is shot in Galway and in the forest of West Ireland.  Everyone in the film speaks with an Irish accent except for the main character who is American and a standout as a foreigner.

Mina (Fanning) drives her car on delivery of a bird on rolling green hills and bumps over rural lanes lined with fluffy sheep and tall, waving grass.  Her car’s engine sputters to a halt and she cannot call a tow truck because your phone has died.  She leaves the car and ventures into the woods, following an unseen figure and ending up in what will be known to her as the coop, a safe place to hide when daylight is gone from beasts known as THE WATCHERS.

Director Shyamalan creates a solid suspenseful and frightening atmosphere from the start when  Mina is lost right up to the beginning of the last 15 minutes of the film when the film becomes quite silly.  The atmosphere is created in several ways through screams that are loud and vicious and hungry, and blurred images while keeping the audience's curiosity hand.

In the coop, she is given instruction by who appears to be the leader due to her being their the lowest.  Madeline has rules that must never be broken.  The rules include never going out at night, never leaving your back to the mire and never going down the burrows where the watchers are supposed to go during the day.

There are quite a few good scary set pieces including the one where Mina enters the burrow and the one where she is shut out of the coup as night falls.  Director Shyamalan also makes good use of the woods and the gloom of the grey skies.

THE WATCHERS is not a M. Night Shyamalan-directed film though his name is splashed on the poster.  He acts as the film’s producer for his daughter’s filmmaking debut,   Ishana has a lot riding on this movie, this being her feature debut while riding on her father’s reputation.  Shyamalan directed and wrote several episodes of the horror TV series Servant, for which her father was the showrunner.  Shyamalan also directed the second unit on her father's films Old (2021) and Knock at the Cabin (2023). Truth be told, she deserves credit for keeping a consistent suspenseful atmosphere throughout the film - clearly no easy task, especially for a first-time feature director.  The film only falters during the last 15 minutes where too much happens, though one can blame the critical flaw due to the source of the material, the novel.

THE WATCHERS opens only in theatres on June 7th.

Trailer: 

 

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