September 5, 2017

Melissa Joan Hart Talks Her Directorial Debut With Lifetime’s Reimagining Of ‘Watcher In The Woods’

(AOTN) Executive producer and director, Melissa Joan Hart reimagines the ‘80s cult classic, The Watcher in the Woods, starring Academy Award winner Anjelica Huston as Mrs. Aylwood, the distraught mother whose daughter, Karen, vanished in the English countryside over 20 years ago.

When Jan Carstairs (Tallulah Evans) and her family move into the idyllic Aylwood manor for the summer. The family is warned against entering the surrounding woods, but Jan and her little sister Ellie (Dixie Egerickx) hear voices coming from the forest. Strange occurrences begin to unnerve the family and Jan begins to suspect that they are linked to Karen’s disappearance. As Jan unravels the dark past hidden by the townspeople, she delves further into the mystery and deeper into danger, but now it might be too late to escape the Watcher in the Woods.

We caught up with director and executive producer Melissa Joan Hart to speak about her directorial debut and just what drew her to this particular story during San Diego Comic Con 2017. Also, on the panel answering our burning questions about “Watcher In The Woods” was executive producer Paula Hart, writer Scott Abbott and associate producer Andrew Gernhard.

When speaking about being involved with the reimagining of “Watcher In The Woods” Melissa Joan Hart tell us, “The original “Watcher In The Woods” was a film that was released back in 1981 and starred Bette Davis and I was obsessed with it. I watched it over and over again with my sisters and my family and when we were doing “Sabrina” and Hartbreak films (mainly Paula Hart) was currently looking for projects for us to do during the summers when we were on break from the show. This was one of the projects that she just knew I was a fan of and tried to track down the rights for close to 17 years and finally got Disney to give us the rights to do it!”

Melissa goes on to say, “At this point I was too old to play Jan and too young to play Mrs. Aylwood.” Paula Hart, adds, “Plus the prosthetics would have cost us a fortune to make her look older.” Melissa continues, “I thought about playing the mom, but ultimately I didn’t want to act and direct. We ended up finding a wonderful woman to play the mom and I didn’t have to do it.”

When touching on details with keeping the reimagining of the film true to the source material without copying, writer Scott Abbott says, “The first thing I wanted to preserve was the story itself. It is based on a 1976 young adult novel and the 1980 film does a nice job at telling that story, but it’s a gothic story. It’s really a ghost story. The one thing I wanted to deviate from in the 1980 movie was the ending that dealt with sci-fi elements. I wanted to tell it as a straight gothic story and the biggest concern I had was ‘who is The Watcher?’ and ‘what is The Watcher, what do they want and why?'”

You can watch our full interview below:

“Watcher in the Woods” is produced by Hartbreak Films. The Watcher in the Woods premieres Saturday, October 21st on Lifetime.

Official Trailer:


About the Author

Kristyn Clarke
I am a journalist and interviewer who is completely obsessed with music, TV, film and all other aspects of pop culture! I am currently the Director of Operations for and my work can also be found on,, and! Have my B.S. in Television/Video Production from Wilmington University and have been working in online media for the past ten years and loving every moment of it!


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