M. Night Shyamalan and Daughter Ishana Night Tease ‘Unease’ and ‘Suspense’ With Dual Thrillers ‘Trap’ and ‘The Watchers’

There are two twisty thrillers directed by filmmakers named Shyamalan heading to theaters in the coming months and the filmmakers promise “unease” and “wonder.”

It wasn’t intentional, said M. Night Shyamalan, sitting down for a conversation with his daughter and fellow filmmaker Ishana Night Shyamalan.

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“It just played out this way,” he began, recounting the filmmakers’ conversations with Warner Bros., which is releasing both films. “It was just: What is the best date for that movie and what is the best day for this movie? And it turned out it was in the same summer.”

First up will be the June 14 release of “The Watchers,” the feature film directorial debut from Ishana Night Shyamalan, starring Dakota Fanning as part of a group of humans trapped in the woods who are visited by a mysterious audience every night. That will be followed by the Aug. 9 debut of her dad M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie, “Trap,” starring Josh Hartnett as a man trying to escape a massive stadium concert.

With “Summer of Shyamalan” coming up, Warner Bros. held a special event with the two filmmakers to debut footage from the highly-anticipated films before the father-daughter directing duo sat down for a Q&A discussion about their projects.

Ishana Night was asked about growing up the daughter of the famous filmmaker and how that influenced her own work. “The training from him has existed my whole life,” she said with a laugh, adding that she’d always been a presence on his sets. That includes three years working as a writer, director and producer on his eerie Apple TV Plus series “Servant.” But she cited other filmmakers who have inspired her – in particular Hayao Miyazaki, Wong Kar-wai and Krzysztof Kieślowski.

Asked if she ever wanted to rebel and pursue another line of work, the graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts said it wasn’t an option. “I’ve moved through different forms of art throughout my whole life and kind of later in life came to filmmaking. But there’s really been no other option in terms of my psyche – I’ve only felt that I think I need to be doing art to survive.”

For his part, M. Night admitted, “I was hoping she would become a filmmaker.” He then recalled how talented Ishana was at painting, ballet, poetry and even designing clothing. “I just watched it kind of curate itself and by not pushing it – in fact when she toured NYU Film, I didn’t go – it was very natural.”

Ishana Night debuted the official trailer for “The Watchers” along with about 10 minutes of footage from the film. The sequence shows Fanning’s character becoming lost in the woods of Ireland and finding shelter in what appears to be a one-room building where three others reside. Each night, they line up in front of a glass wall to present themselves to a group known only as the Watchers.

M. Night serves as a producer on the film and Ishana Night adapted the screenplay from the novel by A.M. Shine.

The filmmaker explained that she was drawn to the classic tale of “a character who gets taken into this very mysterious world that then just keeps expanding and expanding.” Because the book was so “visually rich,” she could already picture the world. “Your imagination just runs wild when you read it. I was so excited by the opportunity of imagining those different spaces he created and playing with that.”

Asked what audiences can expect and Ishana Night said the film “is a journey of suspense that hopefully leads into a feeling of wonder at the end. My hope is it’s an experience that plays on that sense of unease – then takes you to a bigger, wonderful place.”

While “The Watchers” setting appears to be more intimate, “Trap” takes place at a giant concert venue where Hartnett’s character brings his daughter to see pop star Lady Raven perform. It’s revealed a serial killer is on the loose in the stadium but – spoiler alert – the killer is Harnett’s character, who now has to escape the venue.

There’s yet another Shyamalan collaborating on this film – M. Night’s oldest daughter Saleka, an R&B singer and songwriter who has already released the album “Seance” with Columbia Records. M. Night was inspired to write the story after watching Saleka perform at these huge venues and collaborated closely with her, writing the script as she wrote songs for the film.

“I would say to Saleka, ‘This is the outline, and we need this moment here. This is what he’s doing at this moment, and I need a song here,’” M. Night revealed. “And she just went away and wrote, kind of slightly scoring it in the way she was writing the songs. I didn’t ask her to do that, she was just feeling it out and commenting on the scenes.”

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