A 1981 live action Disney film based on the YA novel by Florence Engel Randall, The Watcher In The Woods is a supernatural mystery about a family that moves into an old British manor. Shortly after, the two daughters attract the attention of what appears to be some kind of ghostly presence lurking in the woods surrounding their house.The movie is notable for being a well-done example of a suspenseful thriller while still being accessible to kids (although younger children may find it too scary), and also managing to be quite different from the typical Disney fare of the era. The film makes good use of atmosphere to develop a sense of tension and urgency as the plot unfolds.
The Movie Contains Examples Of:
- Adaptational Ugliness: Florence Engel Randall describes the Watcher as a humanoid little girl with long flowing robes, in the original ending, it is a black archangel from outer space with clipped wings.
- Slightly justified in the official ending where it takes the form of Ellie.
- Another Dimension: Where the Watcher is from, and where Karen went.
- Creepy Child: Ellie, when she's possessed by the Watcher.
- Initiation Ceremony: When Karen disappeared, it was while being initiated into a "secret club" by the other children.
- Large Ham: John Keller's the one character who overacts in every scene he appears.
- Mirror Scare: Jan sees a blindfolded girl in a mirror, then again in a pool of water, and finally at a carnival's house of mirrors attraction.
- Missing Trailer Scene: A clip from the original ending, which features Jan's mother asking Karen's childhood friends what they saw when they reenacted the "secret club" initiation with Jan, appears not only in the trailer, but also in the "Walt Disney and You" ad that appeared at the end of numerous Disney videos in The '80s.
- Nothing Is Scarier: There are a lot of tense moments when nothing really happens, but you know something is there, watching.
- Trapped in Another World: During the eclipse thirty years ago, Karen and the Watcher switched places when a portal was opened between their dimensions, and they need Jan's help to reverse it.