Thursday, October 1

The Woods Script Revealed

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Reportedly, Disney production chief Nina Jacobson keeps the studio’s only copy of M. Night Shyamalan’s script to ￿The Woods￿ locked away in her office safe. But, in an exclusive to, we somehow have the first look at the script from a scooper we￿ll call ￿Ray Reddy.￿ We have been able to confirm the scooper￿s veracity through several pages of the script we have obtained ourselves from sources, so this is not a drill. This is the real thing.

As reported by several trade outlets, the film — set in 1897 — revolves around a close-knit community that lives with the knowledge that a mythical race of creatures resides in the woods around them. Or is the premise a part of the big twist that Shyamalan is famous for? For those unwary of spoilers, read on￿

￿M. Night Shyamalan is back to his old tricks with his latest, ￿The Woods,￿ which he wrote and is set to direct. There is the slow plodding for three-quarters of the film to build towards the endgame, the use of colors to emphasize themes and the patented twist ending. Although I liked the script, knowing the pedigree of the film makes the reader more attuned to what is to come￿ I was able to guess the twist within the first 40 pages.

The film begins with Edward Walker, the leader of the small town of 60 people, intoning ominous words at a dinner: ￿We came here to start anew. We are grateful for the time we have been given.￿ As hands begin to pass various platters and baskets of food, screams carry through the village from a distant place. It emanates from the woods found on the town￿s outskirts and soon dies away. Later that same day, a bell tolls from the town￿s watchtower, which overlooks the woods, reverbrating throughout the area. Each family huddles to their basements and waits for the all-clear signal is given. Once it is sounded, the townspeople resume their lives. But they soon find a smaller piece of livestock brutally killed, its head twisted back and fur fully removed. We soon learn it was killed by what the townfolk call Those We Don￿t Speak Of, creatures from Covington Woods that have been plaguing the town since the beginning.

We then meet some of the peripheral characters, such as: Lucius Hunt, the young man who questions the town￿s way; Alice, his mother, a leader of the town and a member of its secretive council of elders; Ivy and Kitty, two sisters both enamored with Lucius, with the former blind but able to see the auras of people and items; and Noah Percy, the mentally handicapped young man who is drawn to the woods and contiunally tempts it.

After asking her father￿s permission, Kitty proposes to Lucius, telling him that she loves him. ￿I love you more than the sun and moon together,￿ she says. ￿And if you feel the same way, we should not hide it any longer. It￿s a gift, love is. We should be thankful. We should bellow it with all the breath in our lungs, ￿Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!￿￿ Lucius turns her down, as he is seemingly more in love with her sister. As Kitty becomes engaged to Noah, Lucius secretly becomes engaged to Ivy.

Lucius becomes increasingly enamored with the woods and what lies beyond, coming to believe that the innocent people of the village can pass through it. Sitting him down, Alice explains that there is something in those towns that lie beyond the forest, contentment. ￿There is something in the very nature of the cities and towns that rejects it. Society survives on greed, and desire. Its heart is fed by wants.￿ She tells him to not desire to leave the town, even as some of the younger townspeople increasingly begin to step over the forbidden line into Covington Woods.

Wearing yellow cloaks, there they discover large clawed footprints, and they soon see ￿the dark form of a humped creature, standing upright,￿ which soon strides away from them. Soon after, the creatures enter the town, sending the townspeople flurrying. On each door is found a red crimson ￿X.￿ Kitty and Noah are soon married, although after the ceremony the creatures again visit, this time butchering all the livestock taken and skinned. The next day the town begins an inquisition to find out why the creatures visited￿what was done to anger them? Did a member of the small town enter the woods?

And then an act by Noah sets in motion the third act: He stabs Lucius as they try to work out the quasi-romantic triangle that exists with Kitty.

I￿m going to end Reddy￿s review at that, although there is a great deal more tell. What I can reveal is this: After this point, the story focuses on Ivy as she is granted permission to go beyond the town￿s walls in order to save Lucius. The creatures in the forest mentioned in the well-written IGN FilmForce speculative article found here are not the creatures of the forest plaguing the town￿There is no Bigfoot, or albatwitches, ghosts, Cheenos, gnomes, faeries, goblins or anything else that has been mentioned. And the big reveal at the end is not even centered on this aspect.

But one thing struck me from what Reddy wrote me in a subsequent exchange:￿When one goes to see a Shyamalan film, they expect a big twist at the end of the film. Unfortunately, as a big reader of the mystery genre, I was able to guess the ending of the film relatively early￿It￿s gotten to the point, that ￿ like certain detective novels ￿ we come knowing that there will be a twist at the end, and it￿s gotten to the point where we are on the look-out for such a thing. And this can be a bad thing, especially when it is as easy to guess from the clues found here early on, based on the dialogue and main theme that runs through the entire film. Shyamalan needs to a way to satiate this fixation, because now it is getting tired￿ although I really liked the film and look forward to seeing it realized once it hits the screen next summer. I would love to see Shyamalan move beyond this, so as not to become a one-trick pony that he might become with continued projects. He is a better storyteller than that and deserves a longer career.

The ensemble cast for the film includes (as of this writing) Adrien Brody, Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sigourney Weaver, Judy Greer and Jayne Atkinson. Shyamalan will also produce, along with Scott Rudin and Sam Mercer. Production is scheduled to start in Pennsylvania October 14.

Courtesy of FilmJerk

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