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The Watcher in the Woods (2017)

TV-PG | | Horror | 21 October 2017 (USA)
Mrs. Aylwood is a distraught mother since her daughter, Karen, vanished in the Welsh countryside 30 years ago. When the Carstairs family move into the Aylwood manor for the summer., strange... See full summary »

Director:

Melissa Joan Hart

Writers:

Scott Abbott (teleplay), Florence Engel Randall (based on the novel by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anjelica Huston ... Mrs. Aylwood
Tallulah Evans ... Jan Carstairs
Nicholas Galitzine ... Mark Fleming
Dixie Egerickx ... Ellie Carstairs
Rufus Wright Rufus Wright ... Paul Carstairs
Melanie Gutteridge Melanie Gutteridge ... Kate Carstairs
Melanie Walters ... Helen Taylor
Rebecca Acock Rebecca Acock ... Karen Aylwood (as Rebecca Aycock)
Ioan Hefin ... Tom Colley
Benedict Taylor ... John Keller
Crisian Emanuel Crisian Emanuel ... Mrs. Fleming
Di Botcher ... Mrs. Thayer
Steven Elliot Steven Elliot ... The Watcher
John Cording ... Old Gent
Pal Aron Pal Aron ... Constable
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Storyline

Mrs. Aylwood is a distraught mother since her daughter, Karen, vanished in the Welsh countryside 30 years ago. When the Carstairs family move into the Aylwood manor for the summer., strange occurrences begin to unnerve the family and Jan begins to suspect that they are linked to Karen's disappearance. As Jan unravels the dark past hidden by the townspeople, she delves further into the mystery and deeper into danger, but now it might be too late to escape the Watcher in the Woods. Written by Official site

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

feature film | remake | See All (2) »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

TV-PG
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 October 2017 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Wales, UK

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hartbreak Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the two houses used in the film was once inhabited by Agatha Christie, who penned many of her classic novels there and then passed the home on to her family. The house had been modernized, but the sprawling attic required no set dressing because it was already littered with relics from centuries past. See more »

Connections

Remake of The Watcher in the Woods (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Nearly unforgivable
21 October 2017 | by Mr_EctoplasmaSee all my reviews

This retelling of "The Watcher in the Woods" follows an American family who are spending the summer in Wales. They rent a manor from a mysterious elderly woman whose daughter disappeared in the woods decades before, and the daughters find themselves enveloped in the mystery.

I'll be direct here: I grew up on the 1980 version of this film and adore it, and also read the book as a child. It seems screenwriter Scott Abbott was attempting to stick closer to the source novel for this version, as the 1980 film did have substantial differences, but the result is not for the better. The pacing here is fine albeit routine, and the unraveling of the mystery offers few surprises and virtually no tensity. The film has all the cliché trappings of a made-for-television film, but doesn't even attempt a unique spin on them.

I won't pretend that the source novel or even the 1980 John Hough-directed film are masterpieces; they are, at the end of the day, youth-aimed works and are going to be lite fare. That said, this retelling is not only narratively bland, but visually bland(er). The original film was a remarkably dark, Gothic film, and part of what made it such a staple of so many's childhood nightmares was the off-kilter atmosphere, menacing score, and unsettling visuals. Here, key scenes are dumbed down, and the look of the film as a whole is utterly devoid of mood; the home used in this version and the surrounding forest lack any and all menace or mystery, and the photography is a large part of what makes the film so insipid. Exterior scenes in particular are bright and cheery, and not even in an ironic way that belies the horror.

The performances are concomitantly weak, with the lead cast mainly consisting of Brits doing bad impressions of American accents. Anjelica Huston is fine given what she has to work with, but even her performance here is bland, and the intrigue surrounding her character rendered meaningless. Benedict Taylor, who played the boyfriend in the original, makes an appearance in a way that brings things generationally full-circle; this is a nice nod, but it cannot come close to salvaging the rest.

In the end, "The Watcher in the Woods" pales in comparison to its source material as well as the 1980 film, mainly because, unlike the novel and the previous adaptation, it offers nothing in the way of mood, atmosphere, or tension. It's too bland, too bright, and far too non-threatening to offer anything worthwhile. The original novel and earlier film are both unique and ominous in their own respective ways; unfortunately, the same cannot be said here. Aside from a semi-well-directed flashback scene, the film is unrepentantly dull. 2/10.


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