Deep within a lush meadow a thriving community is enjoying a communal dinner following the passing of a young member of the town. The smiles and laughter that emerge from those seated at the table hide that fact that the town lives in perpetual fear of an unspeakable evil.
The towns residents are haunted by creatures that are referred to as “Those we do not speak of” and are bound within the borders of their village by a long-standing set of rules. The rules consist of not having a trace of the color red anywhere within the town, and never breaking the boarders of the village as angering the creatures or venturing into their territory is sure to result in certain death.
Under the leadership of Edward Walker (William Hurt), the village has grown and a truce has been maintained with the creatures by following the rules of conduct that have been established. Walker is a happy man as his oldest daughter is marrying and his blind younger daughter Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard) is becoming very close to Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix). On what should be joyous time in the community, instead becomes one of fear as mutilated animals and bizarre sightings have been found throughout the village indicating that the creatures from the woods have become annoyed and are making their displeasure with the local townsfolk known.
Lucius has provoked this situation by his challenge of the borders and has admitted that he has ventured into the woods and desires to travel to the towns that the elders speak of that lay beyond the woods. This is put off as youthful indiscretions and when Lucius agrees not to travel and his intentions to marry Ivy, things seem to be right in the world, especially to his mother Alice (Sigourney Weaver), who worried that her son would meet a bad end the same way her late husband did.
Things do not go as planned as an unforeseen accident has caused dire repercussions for the town and forces the town elders to allow travel beyond the village as not doing so can have even larger repercussions than doing so.
What should be a tight thriller instead becomes a mess as “The Village” suffers from a bad plot and terrible sequencing that eliminates much of the suspense in the film. We were asked not to reveal the surprise ending, but suffice it to say, that 6 minutes into the film, I looked at my watch, and told my friend what I thought the surprise twist would be. Low and behold, I was dead on as the film offers very little surprises.
This is a tragic shame as the concept of the film is good and the cast and performances are first rate especially Adrian Brody in a supporting performance and the amazing work of Hurt and Phoenix. Sadly it all becomes much ado about nothing as the film promises so much and yet delivers amazingly little. Writer/Director M. Night Shyamlan has created 2/3 of a great film but the pacing of the film and resolution of the key events of the story are so badly done, they make you wonder if he was asleep. Case in point, there is a key plot point that is revealed in the film that later undermines a sequence in the woods and destroys a golden opportunity of discovery and shock for the audience as what should be a tense moment with a shocking conclusion is instead watered down by information that was revealed in a flashback that never should have been shown to the audience prior to the scene.
This is such a hard film to review as I find fault with segments yet am unable to really explain my criticisms without giving away key points to the plot. I guess the best way to describe the film would be to think of it as an episode of “The Outer Limits” or “Twilight Zone”. It has a great premise, but unlike the two series, the outcome is badly done and at least for me, very easy to see coming. At least it took me 15 minutes to see the twist in “The Sixth Sense”, and allowed me to enjoy the story despite this fact. Once I figured out what twist the story would take, the film implodes as the entire premise is based upon a flimsy base that once exposed, causes the film to implode like a house of cards.
My advice, wait for the DVD.
2.5 stars out of 5