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The Village
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The Village (2004)

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Plot Summary:
"Covington Pennsylvania is a nice quiet town surrounded by a beautiful forest where strange, and unseen creatures live. The people of Covington have a small, yet essential agreement with these creatures. Do not to come to our village, we will not come to your woods. It's as simple as that. But Lucius, one of the townfolk, realizes it's not fair to be completely confined to the town, and goes into the woods for something no one knows about. Not long after, the town is under attack. Red blood slashes are found on the doors all over the village, and pretty soon, the creatures have agreed with Lucius. Why stay in the woods when there's a village to be explored, and people to be hunted."

Review by
Ryan McDonald
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Review Date: 26 October 2004 My Rating: out of 5


A closed-off 19th Century community must send one of its own (Bryce Dallas Howard, as the local blind woman) through the woods into town to collect medicine, after tragedy strikes. The town's elders, including Howard's father (William Hurt, in full-on boring and depressed mode, like he'd rather be in another film), say it is forbidden to enter the woods, for fear of upsetting the creatures believed to inhabit them. They are referred to only as Those We Do Not Speak Of, and apparently they don't much like visitors...

I've liked most of M. Night Shyamalan's films, especially the underrated 'Signs', and the trailer for this, his latest effort, looked as though it'd be a Hammer-esque masterpiece. Unfortunately, it's a total disaster. Shyamalan's low-key, slow-building style is at odds with what should've been a wonderfully campy, gothic chiller, and the film only even comes close to coming alive in the final twenty minutes or so when Howard finally enters the damn woods. By then, it's too late. Not only is Shyamalan's style all wrong for this, but he seems to have lost his mojo anyway; there are far too many characters for any depth (Brendan Gleeson, usually a great scenery-chewer, essentially plays Third Elder from the Left, whilst Joaquin Phoenix and Sigourney Weaver go too far in underplaying), the 19th century dialogue comes across as though it were based on really bad period movies, and the ending, when it finally comes, is neither surprising nor acceptable, it is a horrible, entirely predictable cop-out.

Shyamalan's films are usually all smoke and mirrors, but this one really is just all surface, there's absolutely nothing behind it all, and thus even the wonderful cinematography leaves a bad taste in one's mouth because we know it's just there for show (And since it is all just surface, and there really is very little plot to speak of, it becomes even easier to predict the ending because there's nothing else to focus on!). And the less said about Oscar-winner (it really is a great cast, on paper...well, aside from the histrionic Judy Greer who is truly abysmal here) Adrien Brody's offensive village idiot stereotype (more offensive as the film goes on) the better.

A total misfire, it's as though Shyamalan completely lost his mind for the first hour or so of the film, regained it for about 20 minutes and lost it again right at the very end. Overpopulated, undernourished, boringly acted, and it'd be laughable if it weren't so damn ponderous. Awful.

Reviewer: Phil Davies Brown @horrorasylum
Location:Scotland, UK
Review Date: 24 August 2004 My Rating: out of 5

Whether you loved this film or hated it, there is no denying that it is a beautifully shot, well acted and intriguing story.

Without giving anything away, The Village centres on the inhabitants of the titular location and their day to day lives. At first everything is peaceful until people begin to question the myths surrounding the inhabitants of the nearby woods. This is when the trouble begins for the villagers.

Straightaway I have to say that I have not heard M. Night Shyamalan talking about any huge twist in this movie, I have only heard it from audience memebers.

In my opinion people seem to be disappointed because they have the wrong expectations. Do not expect a huge twist, yes the plot has twists but no one promised us a life changing ending.

I admit that for the first time, I was able to guess the ending but I did not predict the twist that occured midway. This does not mean that the film was poorly made or even weak it just means that the signs were more obvious for us to see.

M. Night Shyamalan is a gifted storyteller and has pleasantly surprised me everytime and I really did enjoy this film.

A really good story with good performances from a highly talented cast ensured that my attention was held from start to finish. People jumped plenty of times and there are plenty twists, they simply aren't the main focus here....the story is.

Reviewer: Steven Davies @braindeadsteve
Location:Luton, UK
Review Date: 23 August 2004 My Rating: out of 5

M. Night Shyamalan has grown to be a most respected director. As a director and/or writer you are always likely to make a mixed bag of appalling movies and some remarkable features. But putting into each of your movies your own polished trademarks and style and successfully achieving an almost equivalent level of quality in each is a hard task to achieve. Shyamalan's movies are distinctive and unique. They are tense, edgy, well shot, well paced and thoroughly enjoyable.

In my opinion I believe all of Shyamalan's movies are top quality. It seems as each new movie comes out he doesn't let slip his key fundamental methods. The Village is another example of his superiority in this genre of movie.

Unlike his previous efforts The Village is set in the late 1800s. The village itself is a quiet little rural community. But for its inhabitants the quiet life they know and love is soon to be disrupted by the frightening creatures that lurk in the nearby woods. A pact was formed years before and the border between woods and village was put in place. No villager should enter the woods and the creatures would leave well alone. But the impulsive Lucius Hunt (played by Joaquin Phoenix has other ideas and is determined to venture through the woods to the neighbouring towns to retrieve much needed supplies.

However, Lucius foolishly crosses the border into the evil filled woods and is sighted by one of the beastly creatures. Here-on-in livestock is slaughtered and strange red markings are etched in red on the villagers' doors. And the whole community is thrown into disarray.

Of course, not all is what it seems in a Shyamalan movie. Ever the devotee to tension building, intelligent vision and enormous twists, Shyamalan slowly builds his movie up to a tensely executed and well disguised finale. The ambience of the movie is comparable to previous efforts in that there always seems to be such a dark undercurrent stringed through the experience.

But The Village is barely a disheartening and dull event. It has its humorous moments often used at times in many a horror film to break down the apprehensive feelings so you drop your guard and relax. Only, for the makers to start over from scratch and build it all up again to a mighty startling crescendo. Others can enjoy, with puppy dog eyes, the light tear-jerking love story between Lucius and Ivy, another key player in the movie.

The acting is well performed by the ensemble cast, and unfortunately some of the more major players are underused shamelessly. William Hurt turns in a fine performance as does new face Bryce Dallas Howard.

The Village is another great addition to the Shyamalan collective. Not his best to date, but consistent with levels of style, moods and tones found in prior ventures. The only drawback I often feel with this type of movie, especially those that have staggering unforeseen endings, is the dip in enjoyment the second time round. Very much like the Sixth Sense this movie holds an unexpected twist that isn't revealed until the end. And so, the whole movie plays out creating a particular perception of events, which is crushed by the end. More often than not this plays on my mind all the way through a repeat viewing. But to have it in place in the first place is definitely worthwhile.

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