M. Night Shyamalan worked as a second unit director on his daughter’s debut horror movie

The Watched
(Image credit: Total Film / Warner Bros)

As Ishana Night Shyamalan’s debut horror movie The Watched nears release, the filmmaker says that she was inspired by growing up on her father's sets, and reveals he even shot some second unit footage for her new film.

"He actually shot a bunch of the second unit on my movie, so that was a really wonderful role reversal," Ishana Night Shyamalan tells Total Film in our new issue about working with M. Night Shyamalan. And while The Watched marks her feature film debut, Shyamalan tells us she has a lifetime of experience behind her from being around her dad making films like The Village, The Sixth Sense, and Signs. "I grew up on his sets!" says Shyamalan, adding that her father's presence on her movie set was both focusing and calming. 

The Watched follows an artist (Dakota Fanning) who is stranded in an untouched forest in western Ireland, with the only shelter being a room with a large window. Once in, she becomes trapped along with three strangers who inform her the room is watched every night by mysterious creatures whom she cannot see, but they can see her. The film, titled The Watchers in the US, is based on the novel of the same name by A. M. Shine. See an exclusive new look at the film above.

Shyamalan shares that her inspirations for the film are wide-reaching. "I’ve been inspired by the more visual filmmakers, like Wong Kar-wai; I love the way Tim Burton plays with creating visual spaces," she tells Total Film. "Tone-wise, I was very much inspired by this sense of nature horror, just kind of using the things that exist in environments to create suspense," also naming both Kaneto Shindô’s classic historical horror Onibaba and Lars von Trier’s Antichrist

In terms of creating the perfect shot, she looked to none other than Steven Spielberg’s epic Jaws which taught her "that the premise of keeping a threat off-camera is one of the most frustrating and scary things you can do." In that respect, it sounds like the shark movie is quite similar to her debut which centers around being stalked like prey, as she adds, "The idea that you’re being observed by something that you can’t see, that you don’t know what it is, is a very, very scary thing."

The Watched is released on June 7. And you can read more about it and a whole lot else besides in the new issue of Total Film when it hits shelves and digital newsstands on Thursday, May 23.

Check out the covers below:

Glen Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Anthony Ramos on the covers of Total Film's Twisters issue

(Image credit: Future)

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Editorial Associate, GamesRadar+

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for SFX and Total Film online. I have a Bachelors Degree in Media Production and Journalism and a Masters in Fashion Journalism from UAL. In the past I have written for local UK and US newspaper outlets such as the Portland Tribune and York Mix and worked in communications, before focusing on film and entertainment writing. I am a HUGE horror fan and in 2022 I created my very own single issue feminist horror magazine.