The man behind "The Sixth Sense" and "Signs" returns with a tale about an isolated village whose inhabitants live with the frightening knowledge that evil and foreboding creatures live in the surrounding woods.
The Village is a masterpiece. This is not a statement usually used by critics when referring to M. Night Shyamalan's seventh screenplay effort, but I firmly believe this is true. I can see how The Village could have viewers divided in opinion, one side shrieking "Excellent, beautiful, just watch it and see!" the other yelling "Pretentious, boring, not scary!".
Let's start with the "not scary" issue. This film will not have you gnawing away at your fingers with fear, nor will it easily win over its desired "let's get freaked out" audience. The eerily beautiful photography (courtesy of Brit Oscar nominee Roger Deakins) and equally commendable music score gets this fact across in the first quarter of an hour, though does hint at darker things to come. The story concerns a group of people living the best life independent that the 18th Century has to offer, with one nagging issue always at the back of their minds: the creatures in the woods. These woods surround the village, acting as a starting point for all stories that indulge in the strange, disturbing or mysterious. Tales of creatures that lurk in between the creaking trees keep the residence from straying from their community's boundaries, preventing people from going to any nearby towns. Cut off from the economy and the rest of the world, they live off the land and exercise their daily lives without money or fixed laws. The elders of the community have the final say on matters of deliberation, and so is the case when blind daughter of elder Edward Walker (William Hurt) asks to travel through woods to the towns to get urgently needed medical supplies. To say more than this would risk an indiscretion to those who have not already been subjected to the mind-spraining wonderful twist at the end.
Although Disney preferred to bill Shyamalan's name on the promotional posters rather than those of the impressive cast, a mention has to go to the touching, very human performances from William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver and Oscar-worthy Bryce Dallas Howard (thanks to her, blindness is truly the scariest thing in the film). More through facial expression than dialogue, they make the pieces of Shyamlan's "Little Red Riding Hood"-meets- "The Others" jigsaw puzzle fit perfectly.
The unfortunate decision to try to appeal to true hard-horror lovers was, in my view, the cause of the film's less than warm reception. By expecting a nerve drilling, rather than an intelligent exercise in audience manipulation and storytelling beauty, a viewer will feel short-changed. If this has happened to you, I would urge you to we-watch The Village and try to not to think of it as a film to be terrified by, but let yourself be wondrously transfixed by the sepia-like vision that Shyamalan serves up. If you have yet to watch the film, take note of the BBFC"s 12 certificate and take it for what it is. If you do this, hopefully you won't eject the DVD wishing you'd seen an 18 instead. Go where the film wants to take you: a trip into the pre-"Happening"* world of a gifted writer. (*Reference to "The Happening, the most recent work of Shyamalan to date).
A horror movie not just with a story but an underlying message about society today that raises questions - now that's unique! What appears at the start to be a community imprisoned in a lifestyle because of 'those we don't speak of' in the woods surrounding them turns into a story of people,united by a common factor, who make a conscience decision to live this way and the lengths they went to ensure this lifestyle was maintained and a discipline that forbade them making contact with the outside world even if it meant losing loved ones because of the lack of medicine. The way it is filmed and directed adds to the suspense - clever use of angles and slow motion only show us what we need to see and then reveal an unfortunate outcome. The soundtrack is also awesome - no lyrics - orchestral but stunning and serves to work well with the visuals for that dramatic impact. 10/10
YAAAAAWWWNNNNNN. What a waste of 1hr and 40 mins of my life.
Writer/director M Night Shyamalan delivers a film with an original idea and interesting twist in the tale. But that's the problem.
All this comes at the very end of the film.
Before that you've got some cliched gubbins about monsters making life misery for residents of an 18th century village.
An all-star cast, featuring the likes of Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Adrien Brody and Joaquin Phoenix, try their best but they struggle with the plodding dialogue and dull plot.
Shyamalan is so desperate to prove how clever he is, and keep his twist a secret, that nothing interesting happens until the final 20 mins. But by then it's too late and the film is beyond salvation. I would urge you to avoid this and catch an old episode of Tales of the Unexpected instead.
When initially watching The Village (2004) written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan,(director of The Sixth Sense & Unbreakable) one would mistakenly think that they are about to view a horror film. Essentially what this film does is explore the psychology of human nature and also the phenomena of group hysteria.
Staring Joaquin Phoenix and Sigourney Weaver (in a somewhat different role than we are used to seeing her in).
The film is set in what appears to be a turn of the century Amish village, already setting itself apart from the usual horror backdrop, introducing "The ones we do not speak of" or as in horror theory terminology "fear of the other" as the main element of horror.
The village has a boundary that "The ones we do not speak of" have agreed not to cross; likewise the villagers must not cross into their territory. This pact is broken however by one of the villagers and "The ones we do not speak of" then enter the village leading to a chain of events with interesting consequences and transforming the perceived genre entirely.
The film starts off quietly and can be considered slow, but what keeps you watching are the characters constant references to "The ones we do not speak of" building into a tantalising urge to see what "The ones" actually are; human or otherwise.
Clever and original it is also highly indicative of the director M. Night Shyamalan"s fascination with the psychological, (as can be noted in his previous films) not just in the characters and the storyline that is represented on the screen, but also in manipulating the audiences need for information and in playing with our perception. Perception is an underlying theme throughout the piece and is predominantly representative in the character of "Ivy" whose blindness heightens her perception of what is going on in the village.
This film ultimately highlights how conditioned we are as viewers into believing that we are watching a particular genre due to our identification with the sounds, shot composition and cuts usually associated with in this case the horror genre.
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Please note this a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 or region free DVD player in order to play. Atmospheric psychological thriller directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Covington is a small rural Pennsylvanian village locked into an unusual pact: beyond the village boundaries lurk terrifying creatures, but these creatures have agreed to stay outwith the villagers' territory so long as the villagers do not enter the woods. However, this precarious arrangement is challenged when Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), a bold and curious young man, decides to find out what lies beyond the narrow borders of his hitherto confined existence. Adrien Brody, William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver co-star. Actors: Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas Howard, Adrien Brody Directors: M. Night Shyamalan Writers: M. Night Shyamalan Producers: M. Night Shyamalan, Jose L. Rodriguez, Sam Mercer, Scott Rudin Language: English Subtitles: English Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English Audio Description: English Number of discs: 1
Atmospheric psychological thriller directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Covington is a small rural Pennsylvanian village locked into an unusual pact: beyond the village boundaries lurk terrifying creatures, but these creatures have agreed to stay outwith the villagers' territory so long as the villagers do not enter the woods. However, this precarious arrangement is challenged when Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), a bold and curious young man, decides to find out what lies beyond the narrow borders of his hitherto confined existence. Adrien Brody, William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver co-star.