The Watchers (2024) Ending Explained – What’s out in the woods?

The Watchers Plot Synopsis

The Watchers is the latest horror film to hit theatres, and it’s Directed by Ishana Shyamalan, M. Night’s daughter. The story centers on a young artist called Mina. She ends up stranded in the extensive forest of Rural Ireland and ends up trapped alongside three strangers, Ciara, Madelina and Daniel. It would appear that mysterious creatures are stalking them each night, “watching” the group from afar behind the mirrored glass inside. With strict rules to follow and a lot of cracks in the mythos, Mina starts to doubt the validity of everything she’s come to learn.

What are the Watchers?

The Watchers are things of lore and go by many names like “changelings” or “faeries”. They watch so they can study and become us, like mimics. According to Madeline, humans are “their playthings” and that’s why they’ll never be allowed to leave.

Apparently the forest is prone to cause hallucinations and even has a “Point of No Return” too, dotted around the woods in a circle. If they stay within the confines there’s a chance of making it back. If they don’t? Well… they probably won’t.

The Watchers are tall, thin creatures that patrol the forest. They rise up to around 9 feet tall and are both menacing and bloodthirsty. Despite initial reservations in the first half of the film, we find out that they’re definitely real and exist in the world.

They’re fascinated by humans and have been watching them all this time. Madeline came to the woods on her own volition because she wanted to and knew what was inside the woods. She saw the Watchers first-hand and hunted on her own. She saw a poor replica of herself, longer and leaner, out in the woods. This is a nice little bit of foreshadowing toward events later in the movie, but we’re getting there!

What are the rules of the forest?

We soon learn that Ciara has been in the forest for 85 months, but Madeline has been here “a lot longer”. More than anybody else. Daniel has only been here 8 months. Madeline explains some of the rules here too, including:

  1. Do not turn your back to the mirror.
  2. Do not open the door after dark
  3.  Do not go near the burrows and
  4.  Always stay in the light.

The reason for these rules stems from The Watchers themselves, who wanted to mimic the humans but could only do so in a contained environment. They wanted to see the humans in their natural habitat, and by staying in the light, and keeping their faces to the mirror, the Watchers could essentially mimic them a lot more effectively. The inclusion of a mirror, and the shots we see of the characters next to the mirror is a great visual cue hinting at what’s happening in the movie.

What was the Professor up to?

We later learn in the movie that the Professor was here studying the Watchers for a long time. There’s a bunker under the “the coop” and it includes TVs, computers and beds. Apparently, his experiment is the fortress called Wonderland. The Professor knows about the Watchers and knows they’re mastering his appearance and mannerisms.

The Professor fed different workers to the Watchers while the bunker was being built. He wanted to try and craft the power of duplication and captured one of the Watchers to do experiments.

The final video from the Professor marks 300 days inside the forest, but by this point, he’s repulsed by his own appearance, as he’s turned power-mad. He tells those watching to destroy everything at his office, and in order to get out, they need to “follow the birds” and find a boat.

Why does Mina break the rules?

Mina’s rule-breaking stems from her history, which we learn about in a flashback sequence. A nasty car accident saw Mina, her sister and mother hit by an onrushing lorry. However, it occurred because Mina was messing about with the window and distracted her other, who took her eyes off the road. At this point, we’re not aware that Mina’s sister, Lucy, survived, but we later in the movie learn that she did.

As the group escape and make it to the boat, Daniel is killed by one of the Watchers, who takes on the form of John, Ciara’s missing husband we saw earlier in the movie. All the Changelings stand and watch as they ride out in their boat.

What does Mina find out at the university?

Mina heads to the university, and checks out the Professor’s work. His paper is called “The Halfling Dilemma” which details about the fae and what they were like before becoming feral beasts. There are scrolls that confirm that they lived among us as friends… and lovers. Those born from human and fae, became Halflings and could replicate. They could even take on the form of the deceased. This is what drove the Professor’s research; he was clearly trying to bring back someone deceased and doing so through those “Watchers” in the forest.

As we soon find out in the final twist, Madeline and the Professor were actually lovers and partners. However, Madeline died back in 2001 and there’s even an obituary entry for her. This also explains why she was in the forest all this time and didn’t leave. She couldn’t. The Professor’s video of a Changeling down in the bunker with him could well have taken on Madeline’s form and stayed here all this time.

She’s different to the other Watchers, as she’s part human. This explains why she can walk around in sunlight, and also fleshes out that earlier quip about her being around “a lot longer” and knows about the Watcher rules. Finally, that story about the Changeling, is probably true but also could show when the Watcher started to mimic the real Madeline.

How does The Watchers end?

When we find out Madeline is a Watcher, Mine shows up to confront her. However, she knocks out Ciara and assaults Mina. Madeline explains that she was cast out by the Watchers for her ability to withstand daylight, so she’s been stuck on her own.

Mina tries to talk her around, empathizing with her plight. She doesn’t want Madeline to be afraid. She explains that Madeline is a hybrid human-faerie with the power to cast out hatred in exchange for humanity. Madeline takes the words to heart, smashes the glass, and takes off. Before she does, she points out “I hope you’re right, Mina.”

With Madeline gone, Mina makes up with her sister. She explains everything, and Mina points out how she thinks Madeline is watching over her, like a guardian angel of sorts. This is a nice way of paying homage to the past, where fae and human used to get along.


Read More: The Watchers Movie Review

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