The Village (2004)
(Release Date: July 30, 2004)

Excellent, but visible!!!Excellent, but visible!!!Excellent, but visible!!!Excellent, but visible!!!

M. Night Shyamalan's The Village... It's getting WEIRDER!

J.C. Maek III... 

Creature Critic!
J.C. Maek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

A few scant years ago in this very Galaxy a special little movie called The Sixth Sense arrived in theatres and surprised the hell out of us all! No, this was certainly not the first Surprise Twist ending ever made, but it was one of the best.

I still remember being so impressed that I brought my old buddy That Dan Cook to see it. After the amazing surprise at the end he was impressed, but remarked, "You know what, though? I saw that comin'!" Yeah, right! And the Pope's a Mormon! Not a chance.

Five years and two excellent films later (yeah, including Unbreakable) the director of The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan is back with another excellent film, and another shocking ending. This time, you know what though... I saw that comin'!

Could Shyamalan be a victim of his own successes? Maybe so. Maybe we all file in to the theatre wondering what the least likely thing is and we expect that. Maybe... but The Village is still an excellently done film with a great story and incredible directing. He's only made Six Films (The Sixth Sense was not his first), and he's already made a hell of a mark. When he's made as many films as Hitchcock, who knows? Could be one golden future!

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In the woods of Pennsylvania in the year of 1897 a group of elders have created a small settlement in a small clearing. As the settlement grows they begin a tenuous agreement with the monstrous creatures that inhabit the woods surrounding them. These vicious creatures, "Those We Don't Speak Of", never enter the village unless provoked and these pernicious villagers never enter the woods... ever. To do so would be Suicide. Every night roars fill the air and every feast a meat sacrifice must be made to the creatures to appease them.

The towns that the original settlers are from is a far, far distance through the forest, and the Villagers can consider themselves completely isolated. But what happens when too much time has passed and there is no more medicine to anoint the sick? Do the villagers set forth through the forest, or are the lives of the sick and injured expendable for the sake of isolation?

And that's... all you need to know, Kemosabe.

Joaquin Phoenix returns to the Shyamalan-verse as villager Lucius Hunt, a thoughtful, troubled young man who wants to see the rest of the world, but just can't seem to warm up to the idea of getting eaten alive! Newcomer Bryce Dallas Howard is fantastic (and pretty) as love interest Ivy Walker, the blind and kind girl protected by her father (William Hurt's leading elder Edward Walker). Celia Weston, John Christopher Jones and Sigourney Weaver round out the notable Elders. It's Adrien Brody's autistic Noah Percy who practically steals the show with his daring and needy innocence.

It's a creepy and tense good time with all the jumps and starts of a classic horror film. This is where Shyamalan shines. His writing and directing give us the best frights based on what we don't see, or what we think we see. He directs the drama, the comedy and the horror with aplomb! All his characters are well fleshed out and believable! It's especially interesting to note how Syamalan builds the tension by experimenting with the timing of his revelations. Every time you think you're getting an eye-full, you only get a peak! Suspense builds like a House of Cards! Bravo!

On the flip side, there is a sense of tension for the sake of tension, shocks for the sake of shocks and creepiness because it's expected. While overall a success, many of the frights are simply startling moments that make you jump rather than effective tapestries of fear. Overall he succeeds in making a great scary drama, but it's hard not to see through some of the techniques. There are also a couple of sub-plots that he allows to fizzle in the last act, and when he's done telling his story, the credits roll. To hell with the audience, what you don't know isn't getting told... and Night's not one for Sequels! Get over it, he says!

The overall effect is better than most Summer fare (hell, just about any summer fare), but a little disappointing for M. Night Shyamalan! It's crafted well, and like all of his films, The Village makes you want to watch it again to see what you've missed! But it might not hold up to repeated viewings because it does leave the viewer a little wanting... and not in a good way. Still, it's an effective little film which might have been more surprising and complete were this to have been released prior to The Sixth Sense! It still beats any suspense thrillers by most other artisans, and I stand by that statement!

It's hard to put myself in the shoes of someone unfamiliar with Shyamalan, but taken as a film in its own right, The Village gets Four Stars out of Five! Again, Shyamalan proves he's a master story-teller! Again, he gives us an excellently written and directed suspense thriller! Again, he surprises us with an incredible ending. You know what, though, this time, I saw that comin'!

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The Village (2004) Reviewed by J.C. Maek III who is solely responsible for this article and for the fact that he does believe in spooks!
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Don't read this if you don't want a hell of a Spoiler,
but check out Adrien Brody's character! He laughs at every roar of the Beasts and he always seems to be able to venture into the forests on his own...
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He's either crazy or mentally retarded or BOTH, but I think he's probably Autistic... and I'm sure he KNOWS about the Buried Secret of the Village. That's why he's fearless, because he sure isn't "Innocent!" I believe he knew all along, but either chose not to tell, or simply couldn't get his point across. When he appears in the woods dressed as a Creature I believe that he says nothing because he's attempting to scare Ivy into returning to the Village so he can have her.
TFB, dude!