Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
30 July, 2004; mark that date because it is significant for two reasons; the first being that The Village was released to theaters; the second is that it was the day that the first nail was driven into the coffin of what was the career of M. Night Shyamalan. I can’t believe I actually paid money to see this tripe. I should have asked for it back but I figured enough people had done that already and I didn’t want the poor theater manager to have a breakdown.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard more stilted and wooden dialogue from so many talented people in one film. There’s Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line), Sigourney Weaver (Alien), Adrien Brody (The Pianist), William Hurt (Children of a Lesser God) and Brendan Gleeson (Gangs of New York). Each and every one them delivers their lines with the conviction of a sixth grader playing a shepherd in a Christmas play. The only time I remember seeing acting this wooden was Phylicia Rashad in The Cosby Show (“Cliff. Why. do. we. have. four.children?”) and Hayden Christensen in Star War Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (“Obi-wan. Why. do. we. have. four. children?” Sorry, couldn’t resist.) The only silk purse this sow’s ear of a film has is the sweet, understated performance from Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-man 3).
The Village revolves around the citizens of a small isolated community. There is no crime and none of the trappings of modern life such as cell phones, televisions and personal computers. There are just three basic rules that every village must follow: 1. Do not let the bad color (red) be seen. It attracts ‘them’ 2. Don’t go into the woods; it’s where ‘they’ live. 3. If you hear the bell hide yo wife, hide yo kids ’cause ‘they’ is coming.
Who is this mysterious ‘they’? Come on, this is an M. Night Shyamalan film. To tell you would give away the tedious little plot twist he has for us at the end of the film. The twist that if you listen closely enough was already telegraphed midway through the film. The whole twist thing worked great with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable and semi-great with Signs; but by the time The Village rolled around it was less ‘surprise us, Night’ and more ‘oh, for crying out loud, just tell the damned story already!’ Of course we all know how that turned out (*cough* Lady in the Water *cough* The Last Airbender *cough*). I can only imagine that Shyamalan’s epitaph will read something like this:
Here lies M. Night Shyamalan, film director
He directed three good movies and then
OMG! What the hell happened?
Kirsten Dunst was replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard after dropping out to star inElizabethtown.
The director cast Bryce Dallas Howard without an audition after seeing her perform on stage.
Sigourney Weaver suffered nightmares for two weeks after reading the script.
The inspiration for the story comes from two unlikely sources: “Wuthering Heights” for the period drama, and King Kong for the community living in fear of predatory creatures.
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