The Village is Subtle And Underrated Movie
Since the late 90’s when fledgling writer/director M. Night Shyamalan hit the genre scene with his much praised supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense, his films have continued to impress the cinema going public with his clever use of original plot twists and character depth that go far beyond your run of the mill fantasy fare. His now trade mark appearances in his own productions are like a stamp of approval in a way that says “look I’m in my own film so it must be good”. Having personally loved his whole arsenal of movies from the aforementioned The Sixth Sense to one of my all time favorite films Unbreakable and onto the science fiction thriller Signs, he has produced hit after hit movie based on steady but solid story telling and an intelligence for the genre.
As with any review of a Shyamalan movie, care must be taken not to divulge too much of the story in case a spoiler slips in and ruins the whole damn day, but as always’ I shall be cautious. The plot above captures what the production company want you to know about the story, but this movie is all about layers, and as you watch The Village online you will experience twists that will throw you off balance to the point where you will question your own existence in front of the screen. The Village is not what it seems and, dependent on your taste, might be a very good thing or a very bad thing, for me the latter is unfortunately where I found myself as I left the cinema.
The early 1800 setting is a great time to place the film’s period within as the innocence of the villagers plays well against the evil cloud that looms over their homestead and with the help of a very eerie sound track that can only really be appreciated with the power of a solid digital sound system, the atmosphere is complete as we watch the first 30 minutes. As part of the Shyamalan experience you can always expect character interaction to be in-depth.
Remember Graham Hess (Gibson) and Merrill Hess’ (Phoenix) meaning-of-life talk in front of the TV in Signs and David Dunn’s (Willis) stunned reaction to Elijah Price’s (Jackson) stories of superhero enlightenment in Unbreakable. These moments are what makes this director’s work stand out, but in The Village we have several slow building relationships that ultimately go nowhere and appear as nothing more than padding in the hope that the twists (yes there’s more than one!) leave the viewer satisfied with the conclusion.
A few moments of excellent tension are born from creature encounters and the full movie once again picks up a little pace only to suddenly hit a brick wall (!) thanks to the final clever twist that is all just too little too late. The direction in story changes a few times towards the back end of The Village and it is here that the biggest opportunities are wasted. It is hard to explain without giving away too much just what it is I am prattling on about but believe me, if you are a massive monster lover, you might feel cheated by the conclusion.
So, should you watch The Village?
A film is supposed to engage the on looker from start to finish but Shyamalan has fallen down a black hole here that simply must contain nothing but his own ego as he dares to almost insult the viewer by offering up a few moments of excitement followed by what he considers to be a dawning light which everyone will look at and say “man, your a genius”. A film with this much promise should not have failed, but life’s a funny old thing isn’t it?