Parents' Guide to

The Watcher in the Woods (2017)

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

So-so remake of '80s thriller has mild scares.

Movie NR 2017 87 minutes
The Watcher in the Woods (2017) Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 1 parent review

age 8+

Good Spooky but Not Scary Movie

So my 8yo is in to "scary" stories. She loves Coraline and the Goosebumps books. But we are trepidacous about the whole scary movie genre. This is a kid who only made it through the first 10 min of Hocus Pocus last year. Anyway, she has become obsessed with all things "scary", and by scary I really mean spooky not scary. That is a hard bill to fill for an 8yo. We've seen Goonies, Ghostbusters etc. She covers her eyes if anything gets too intense for her, but she loves them. So, I remembered Watcher in the woods w Bette Davis, and thought, aha! However, I couldn't find it on Prime or Netflix. Instead I found this recent remake. I NEVER would have watched a remake (I adore Bette Davis) but it has Angelics Houston. I mean, come on. It's got to at least be decent. So we just finished watching it. My 8yo liked it and so did my 10yo. A.H. acted her butt off considering the made for TV-esque nature of this remake. In general the acting (especially the young actor who played Ellie) was pretty good. The dad stank, but what can you do.? Special effects were low budget but convincing, and not too scary. I mean this is about a girl who has disappeared and "spirits" and whatnot. So, there is definite spookiness. This is squeaky clean. No foul language and not even any kissing. There is one scene where a boy leans in to kiss the main character Jan, and she puts her hand out to shake his instead. I definitely met our scary movie needs for the night. Thank you Angelica Houston for living up to my Bette Davis expectations. My only strong critique would be. What the heck spooky film, set in Wales, in the woods is shot in the dang blaring sun!? Were there no cloudy days on the horizon? Also, Jan is a strong minded young lady who doesn't get washed out by the male characters. I liked that.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (1):

This remake of the 1980 thriller based on the 1976 book loses much of the creepiness of the original by sanitizing the content. The religious overtones and pagan rituals are dialed way down and replaced with the clichéd scares of sudden bursts of suspense music and M. Night Shyamalan-style whispering amidst drab color palettes. They couldn't even have "Nerak" (the name of the girl who disappears spelled backward) be a puppy like the original, opting instead for a doll. The village weirdos aren't as weird. And while Anjelica Huston does a respectable job of filling the venerable shoes of Bette Davis (who played Mrs. Aylwood in the 1980 original), there just isn't enough to work with.

The original wasn't even that great of a movie to begin with. And while at least there is a kitsch value to the original, this remake of The Watcher in the Woods lacks that charm and leaves a bland collection of done-to-death horror clichés in its place.

Movie Details

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