Review: The Village

Published 10 years ago by , Updated September 12th, 2013 at 11:51 am,

By Vic Holtreman

Short version: Suspenseful, creepy, and provides a number of good scares.

Seems like people are pretty evenly split on this film… I’ll cut to the chase and say that I liked it. Now I didn’t like it enough to buy it on DVD when it comes out, and maybe my positive review comes from the fact that 30 minutes prior I had come out of the very weak comedy Anchorman and this was vastly superior.

Nah, this is a good flick on it’s own merits. And oh, BTW, this will be a spoiler-free review.

I feel kind of sorry for Shyamalan… he’s really been put up on a pedastal, and it seems like people have higher expectations for his films. To be honest I think that people are waiting to see him fail. No pressure, though. Really.


Another thing that kind of detracts from the experience is the fact that you know going in that there is some sort of twist to the ending of his films. I have to say that for most of the film my mind kept working on what the twist would be instead of just kicking back and enjoying the ride. I did suspect what part of the ending would be fairly early on, but I didn’t know the full extent until it was revealed. Oh, and the couple next to me whispering through the whole movie had a bit to do with dulling my enjoyment of it as well.

People, can you WAIT until the movie is over to ask questions if you don’t understand what’s going on? Do you not think that whatever question you have will be answered within the next 90 minutes or so? YEESH.

Ok, sorry, I’ll move on now…

If a had to describe The Village in one word, I’d have to say: creepy. It was creepy in the same way that going in the basement late at night before finding a switch at the base of the stairs is creepy: Your rational mind knows that nothing will happen, but there’s still that lingering feeling that something might. And in this case you know that eventually something will happen.

The basic story is that of a village in the late 19th century, established in a clearing surrounded by woods. There are mysterious creatures that live in these woods and the villagers are not to cross into their territory. An agreement was established long ago between these two groups, which keeps each from crossing the boundary. Although there is a level of fear, the villagers manage to live a happy existence overall, while watching the borders carefully just in case.

As expected, something happens to upset this balance, but in typical Shyamalan style, we’re not really sure what that something is until much later. Things start going awry slowly at first but eventually escalate. The fun is in anticipating when and what will happen and the movie takes it’s time doing so (in a good way).

Shyamalan makes excellent use of music to set the mood, and the cinematography of subdued colors seems to bring everything down a notch, so that when something does happen, it’s that much more effective.

William Hurt was excellent as usual as the leader of the town. Sigourney Weaver had a role as both a council member and the mother of Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix). To be honest, I found her presence to be distracting and it took me out of the film. In my mind I suppose I associate her too strongly with Ripley from the Alien series. Personally, I really don’t see what the big deal is about Joaquin Phoenix… he plays morose really well, but that’s it. He’s a one note performer IMO.

BTW, the other thing that kind of took me out of the movie was when halfway through, I felt like I had been sucked back into The Blair Witch Project.

Interestingly, two of the better performances both came from characters that were handicapped: Adrien Brody as the mentally handicapped member of the village, and in particular Bryce Dallas Howard as Ivy. The movie would fail or succeed depending upon her performance, and she carried it off beautifully. She really owned the screen with a quiet but powerful presence whenever she appeared.

Overall The Village is suspenseful, creepy, and provides a number of good scares.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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TAGS: 3 star movies

8 Comments

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  1. This one is officially on my “must see” list… as soon as the crowds die down…

    I saw an article last week about how Shyamalan is an egotistical jerk because he refuses to move to Hollywood to really play the game. (All his films have been shot mostly in the Philadelphia area.) Given his most recent success, I doubt he’ll be losing any sleep over it.

    So far, Signs has been my least favorite Shyamalan film. It had its fair share of scares (hey that rhymed!), but I liked the endings to The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable better. I must be one of the few who liked Unbreakable, but then again, I liked Waterworld, so that shows you how much credibility I have.

    Brian

  2. Yikes! You sure you don’t want to retract that Waterworld comment? Remember, if it’s on the internet, it’s forever. :-)

    Vic

  3. Vic;

    I just want to know where you get the time (and cash!) to see two movies in one day??!! I’m happy if I get to see 2 in one month!

  4. I was overdue. Hadn’t seen anything since Spiderman 2. Besides I was getting cranky and my wife made me go. ;-)

    Also, movies here are only about $6.50 for the regular evening show. :-)

    Vic

  5. I’m not sure we will spring for the 9.50 tickets here in our area. (gak!)

    But I want to see this one.

    I have watched “Signs” several times now, and grow more and more in awe of it’s understated beauty. Once I knew the story, and could start looking for other things in it, (how things were framed in shots, the little hints, the wonderful oddball characters,shoot, I even love the opening credits and the music to them!) I just fell in love with it.
    It’s a piece of art in IMHO and not souless art either. I don’t care about the director’s personal life or where he chooses to live, I enjoy looking at his pictures. Some more than others of course. But he stands out, there’s no question about it. It should always be remembered that not every painting by a great artist was a masterpiece. I’m tired of people setting the bar way too high for others and then rejoicing when they fall short of the unrealistic expectations.

    Let’s see YOU do it! That’s my retort to those fools.

    Thanks for letting me rant. :-)

    Y.

  6. No worries, Y. That’s the whole point to this site. :-)

    Vic

  7. I just saw The Village today. The mood, settings and music were all top-notch, but the ending felt like a little bit of a let-down. I actually glanced at my watch a couple of times towards the end (but not until then). Overall, it was nowhere near as powerful as The Sixth Sense, but it was well done — much better than a lot of the garbage coming out of Hollywood these days.

    I agree that Bryce Dallas Howard carried the movie almost by herself, and that Joaquin Phoenix’s character was weak and flatly played. And Adrien Brody… who knew there was such a thing as a complex, multi-layered village idiot? Is it possible he might have actually deserved his recent Oscar for Best Actor? :-)

    Brian

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