|The Village (***)
review by Jon
There’s an isolated village in the middle of a forest
somewhere. It’s a small community where everyone knows
each other and life is almost as simple as it can be. They
should be happy, right? Wrong. Instead they live in fear, because
outside of the boundaries set by the elders are creatures.
These mythical-looking beasts thrive on flesh and are attracted
to the color red, which they see as an open invitation. After
someone “lets” them in and attacks, medicine is
needed from outside the village. Does anyone dare to face what’s
out there waiting?
This is the latest effort by writer/director M. Night Shayamalan.
This is the first movie he’s done where there isn’t
an overt religious theme. Yet he still remains a one-trick
pony. However, the trick is a relatively good one. He has a
knack for building suspense and playing with the audience.
His films aren’t really scary, but they still get the
adrenaline rushing just from anticipating a scare that never
really happens. His movies use cinematography to help create
this mood. Roger Deakins’ work here is no exception.
One area where he sort of falls short is with the story, just
like in “Signs.” It’s a functional one and
it is unlike most movies you’ll see. The problem is that
there’s this creation of a “twist” ending.
He plays right into this making us think there’s something
more than there is. Because of this, I can’t decide if
the surprise is actually interesting or a cop out. A part of
me thinks he’s churning them out to meet some sort of
quota. But the other part thinks he’s forcing us to look
at the film in a more generalized, but more important level.
Rather than sensationalizing everything, the audience should
view it for what it truly is.
The actors do well with what they’re given. Since they
are in a turn of the century isolated community, we’re
treated to ye olde dialogue. You can tell it throws some of
them for a loop, but the better actors like William Hurt handle
it with ease.
Don’t go in expecting another “Sixth Sense.” Night’s
work has never been able to live up to that standard in terms
of story since and at this point it’s unfair to assume
he’ll match that anytime soon. Forget his past work and
it’s easier to accept this film as a good one. No matter
how you look at it, there will still be unanswered questions
once it’s all said and done. It’s not Arthur Miller,
but it’ll work.
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