FBMR - The Village
Film-Buff Movies Reviews

THE VILLAGE (2004) **1/2

This is M. Night Shyamalan’s fourth major film. We’ve come to recognize his style, at one point or another there will be a twist in the plot, or an inter-connection among characters and their past or their abilities. This isn’t a big surprise anymore.

The Sixth Sense threw everyone for a loop, the revelation at the end of the film left most in the audience gasping and desperately trying to think back to find clues that would have helped them if they knew what to look for. Many returned for a second viewing to see what they missed. UNBREAKABLE also revealed a twist, an explanation, a connection between the two main characters. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as big of a shock, or it was lost because of the nature of the connection, and fewer people in the audience seemed to care. Signs returned to the high suspense and thriller formula, complete with sudden appearances and loud noise aimed to make you jump. But by the end, the explanation behind the crop circles was lack-lustre, and Shyamalan ignored a classic suspense rule: less is more. I did like the fact that character attributes and their past came into play, though.

In THE VILLAGE, we are introduced to a small group of people living a very simple life, a life outside the realm of the hustle and bustle of modern city living. They live in a village by a large forest. It is believed that within the depths of this forest dwell vicious creatures with whom the villagers share a truce, but at one time in the past, the creatures and humans had clashed. The truce involves respect of the forest boundary. Humans will not enter the forest and the creatures will not enter the village. But when children start discovering animals dead, skinned of their fur, the villagers fear that the creatures are warning them and that the truce may be broken. That’s one part of the story. The second part is a love story, love triangle. And when a crime is committed leaving one of the involved mortally wounded, a quest to journey through the woods to reach the town beyond to procure medicines is made.

I don’t think Shyamalan (or the producers/studio) knew whether the film should be a thriller or a love story drama. It was marketed as the new M. Night Shyamalan thriller to bring the audience into the theatre, but would have been a much better movie had it been categorized a drama, with some suspenseful moments. It would have been more of a surprise to the audience, while still being a love story. I can see how people expecting a scary movie would be disappointed. Yes, there are elements of suspense in this film, but it is by no means an edge-of-your-seater. In fact, had it been edited differently, it could have been made much more intense. The film seemed to drag on far too slowly for either a thriller or a drama. And the “expected” twist seemed anti-climactic, even when it twisted and turned another time or two, it didn’t make that much difference in the end.

The end credits were peppered with still photographs, but nothing extraordinary. It would have been a nice touch had they served as an epilogue, however.