Ishana Night Shyamalan reveals filmmaker inspiration behind her debut horror – and it’s not her father

Ishana’s directorial debut, ‘The Watchers’, is an adaptation of A M Shine’s novel and stars Dakota Fanning

Inga Parkel
Monday 22 April 2024 20:32 BST
The Watchers (Teaser Trailer)

Ishana Night Shyamalan, the daughter of renowned horror director M Night Shyamalan, has identified the filmmaker whose work inspired her directorial debut, The Watchers.

It was announced last February that the 2021 New York University graduate would be directing her first movie, based on A M Shine’s novel of the same name.

Ahead of the film’s cinematic release on 14 June, Shyamalan revealed to TheWrap that the movie took inspiration from Oscar-winning Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away).

“His movies are very sacred to me. I don’t allow anyone else to watch them with me,” Shyamalan said. “And throughout my life, I touch base with the various movies he has. I think they’re just incredibly emotive and magical and beautiful. He’s just such a hero.”

While Shyamalan may not have looked to her father’s extensive film catalog for inspiration, she said that he still remained a vital source of support.

She recalled sending him a text after receiving a post-production schedule, saying: “I have no idea how it’s possible.”

“It always feels impossible. Somehow you’re going to do it,” the Sixth Sense director responded.

M Night Shyamalan and Ishana Night Shyamalan attend CinemaCon convention in April 2024
M Night Shyamalan and Ishana Night Shyamalan attend CinemaCon convention in April 2024 (Getty Images for CinemaCon)

“That kind of thing of just reassuring me that he feels the same way and to continue and go for it, that gave me a lot of peace throughout the process,” she added.

Of directing her first feature film, Shyamalan said: “It all exceeded my expectations.

“I definitely came into it knowing it’s a feat. Now that I’ve done one, I have so much respect for what my dad does. It is so hard to do. But it’s wonderful.”

Dakota Fanning leads The Watchers as a young artist who, along with three strangers, is stalked by a mysterious creature in an Irish forest.

The Watchers – titled The Watched in the UK – is out in cinemas from 14 June.

Shymalan is the third child of M Night Shyamalan and his wife, psychologist Bhavna Vaswani. She previously worked as a writer on Apple TV+’s four-season horror series Servant, created by Tony Basgallop and executive-produced by her father. She also served as a second unit director on her father’s 2021 thriller Old and 2023 horror mystery Knock at the Cabin.

M Night Shyamalan recently excited fans with the release of the “perfect” first trailer for his latest film, Trap. His new film centres around a father and his teenage daughter’s night out at a concert, where the dad, portrayed by Josh Hartnett, learns that the entire event has been set up in a bid to catch a known serial killer.

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