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.