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The Village (2004)

M. Night Shyamalans The Village

Run. The truce is ending.

Starring:

Adrien BrodyAdrien Brody

Bryce Howard

Joaquin PhoenixJoaquin Phoenix

Judy Greer

Sigourney Weaver

William Hurt

Directed by:

M. Night Shyamalan

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 108 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a

Country: United States

With the likes of Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense already under his belt, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan is swiftly garnering a reputation for himself as the biggest master of twists since Chubby Checker. ‘The Village’, his latest effort, sees him stay rigidly true to form, throwing our expectations first one way and then the next, but never quite managing to escape the fact that, by now, we all KNOW. Sure, we don’t necessarily know how things are going to end, but we do know to expect the unexpected, and that what we’re being led to believe inevitably isn’t the case. Pretty soon – if we’re not there already, that is – the only way Nighty will be able to surprise us is by making a film that doesn’t attempt to surprise us at all.

This one, as you might well have guessed form the title, is about a village and the quaint bumpkin folk who live there. They’re an old fashioned, even puritanical bunch, and their lives are dictated by fear of the unseen creatures inhabiting the woods beyond the village borders – or “Those We Don’t Speak Of”, as they’re known. For years the village residents have lived under an uneasy truce with the forest beasties, working vaguely along the lines of “we won’t bother you if you don’t bother us.” But, when it becomes increasingly apparent that medicines and other supplies are needed to aid village life, someone has to bite the bullet and venture into the forbidden area. Gulp.

Shyamalan is brilliant at what he does – he knows exactly what techniques to employ to send shivers down the spines of his audience and keep us engrossed. He’s also got a fantastic cast to work with here, including Joaquin Phoenix as the brave-but-qreserved Lucius, Adrien Brody as village idiot Noah, and William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver as two of the more prolific elders. The stand-out performance though comes from young Bryce Dallas Howard. She plays the blind-but-spirited Ivy, and she’s a star in this movie and one who’ll hopefully gain plenty more high profile roles in the future.

Unfortunately, as the film progresses it does feel increasingly like a bit of a damp squib. It certainly never lets go of your attention (partially because you know that trademark twist could arrive at any minute), but I came away from it feeling like I’d witnessed a missed opportunity. The premise is marvellous, but it’s never quite followed through on. It could have been bigger, better, and certainly scarier – Shyamalan’s as anyone good at injecting suspense, but there comes a point where that suspense should subside to make way for a pay-off. There is a pay-off in a way, but it has to be said that it’s a bit of a disappointment – even if only by previous standards.

It's Got: Lots of yellow cloaks – even though that’s clearly, like, so last season.

It Needs: Medicine! Why oh why oh why didn’t anyone think of building a pharmacy?

Alternatives:

Signs, The Blair Witch Project, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable

Summary

It’s not Shyamalan’s best piece of work, and it’s not as good as it could have been – but it’s still one of the must-sees of the year.

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One Comment

  1. Alex Penaloza
    Posted October 8, 2009 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Very good at game

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