The Village

From all the pre­views last sum­mer, we were both expect­ing a horror/suspense film. Some day, I’ll learn to not trust those adver­tise­ments.

M. Night Shyamalan's The Village

It snowed on Wednes­day night, so Angela unex­pect­ed­ly got to come home from work ear­ly. We stayed in and watched M. Night Shya­malan’s The Vil­lage. From all the pre­views last sum­mer, we were both expect­ing a horror/suspense film. Some day, I’ll learn to not trust those adver­tise­ments. Angela, who isn’t the fan of hor­ror films that I am, want­ed to watch the film with me around, lights on, and sur­round sound turned off. Well, that’s not the best way to watch a DVD at home, but oh well.

The film is Shya­malan’s take on a peri­od piece. The actors fol­low through with the idea superbly. His method of long, sta­t­ic shots real­ly lends itself to the peri­od, as well. This film shot with flashy, MTV-style edit­ing would have been hor­ri­ble. Now, about the peri­od: I got the impres­sion of a late 19th cen­tu­ry, Tran­scen­den­tal­ist style utopia. I could­n’t think that some (if not all) of the peo­ple involved with this had recent­ly read Thore­au. I cer­tain­ly got the impres­sion that the char­ac­ter of Edward Walk­er, played by William Hurt, had at some point.

The Vil­lage does­n’t have the same lin­ear­i­ty of Signs, which was basi­cal­ly your straight-for­ward alien invasion/suspense film. Its gift was in its abil­i­ty to come full cir­cle with sto­ry ele­ments. The Vil­lage is more like The Sixth Sense in that it con­tains the kind of twist that alter the very way you per­ceive what it is that you’re watch­ing. A hor­ror film becomes a love film. It’s almost like Pol­ter­geist being mashed with Ghost, but with much bet­ter direc­tion.

How­ev­er, if The Sixth Sense had a hard right turn at the half-way point, then this film cer­tain­ly has two. One in the final meet­ing of Lucius and Noah and anoth­er in the oppo­site direc­tion at the for­bid­den shed. Even if you expect the dra­mat­ic twists (and you do with Shya­malan at this point) and even if you can guess what’s com­ing next, Shya­malan does­n’t fail to impress. He has a gift for film mak­ing, and even more so for sto­ry telling. I have noticed that, after watch­ing the scenes he delet­ed from his film, I can tell that they fell out in the edit­ing room and not when he had a chance to re-shoot some scenes. Sev­er­al of his films will make men­tion of an inci­dent that we only lat­er see in a delet­ed sequence. Giv­en how much I enjoy his movies, I’ll for­give him this.

I think, on the whole, this film was over-hyped yet high­ly under-rat­ed. Sure, the media blitz was huge and very mis­di­rect­ing. I imag­ine the word-of-mouth stopped after the first week­end just because every­body told their friends ‘It’s not scary at all!’ Most of my favorite films are ones that weren’t any­thing at all like I was expect­ing, instead they were much bet­ter. I can’t tell you if, in a year or two, I’ll be dying to watch The Vil­lage all over again, but I can say that I did real­ly enjoy the movie.