Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Village (Movie Review)

One of M. Night Shyamalan's more recent films, The Village (2004) is better than his 2000 film, Unbreakable, but not as good as the box office hits, The Sixth Sense (1999) and Signs (2002).

I began watching this movie knowing only the basics: it was another psychological thriller, written and directed by Shyamalan. Trailers for his films often mistakenly posit his body of work into the horror genre, though I'm pleased to report they're nowhere near as bloody as that general ilk. I had avoided watching The Village until now precisely because the trailers had once again fooled me into believing it was more horror and less psychology.

Luckily, this wasn't the case. And Shyamalan once again struts his proverbial stuff, leaving you constantly to wonder what (literally) lies ahead. The characters are compelling and there's always a much-welcome level of suspense — driven primarily by human emotion — in the air.

But this suspense is merely for the immediate future, as the overall direction of the film is far less daunting — a bit disappointing when you consider Shyamalan is known for his bet-you-didn't-see-that-coming endings.

At the risk of sounding like a know-it-all: I called out this film's "surprise" within the first 20 minutes. Maybe even 15. It almost seemed like Shyamalan was trying so hard to make a political statement (for fear of ruining the film for you, I won't say about what), that he didn't care so much about making sure the ending was a surprise. That's not to say no one will be caught off guard.

Also of note, the dialect spoken in this film drove me bonkers. I was literally rolling my eyes at the 18th century English, particularly since it didn't quite match the timeframe for the costuming. And while I suspect one could argue this served a purpose, that doesn't make it any less annoying. Ditto with some of the activities in the film, which sometimes disregard fine writing in a strict attempt to further the plot.

Still, kudos to Shyamalan for creating yet another interesting story.



James Burnett said...

Happy New Year, Third.

And I loved The Village. My one beef with the film was the ending. Was Phoenix's character dead? Or was he just on the verge - something that could spawn a sequel. I just thought that final scene opened up more unanswered questions.

Handful Of Hell said...

Nice review, albeit a lil late, 4.36 days precisely!! OK, i forgot to mention, 4.36 Neptune days..:)

I thought Signs was a bit of a gimcrack, The Sixth Sense was spooky, Unbreakable was captivating, but The Village was an absolute classic (literally as well). I guess the mood of the flick swayed between Victorian and Amish, but it had this poignant refrain to it. Me likes.