- The Village
- M. Night Shyamalan
- Adrien Brody, Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt
- 120 min.
I came into the movie thinking, "Well, I guess since Signs wasn't that much of a success, they must have thought applying a similar storyline into a Sleepy Hollow setting would make it better, and it sounds better to me." But the thing is, it's not like that at all. While the moments of frightening suspense are much like Signs, with that, "Did I just see something?" moment as a flash darts in the corner of the screen (and when you can hear something approaching, but can't see it), the storyline becomes much more than a simple, leave-them-freaked-out vibe. The themes of the movie are overbearing but good, focusing on the extremes people will go to out of fear and the fallibility of utopia, but that's really all the movie has going for it. And, although the acting is relatively great (especially Adrien Brody playing the almost-retarded simple minded man who's always getting into trouble), the screen write has the cast speaking in a fashion that, while perhaps realistic for the time period, makes the village seem so alien that it's almost impossible to feel empathetic towards them.
The movie doesn't get captivating at all until about two-thirds in, when it finally devotes itself to direct confrontation with "those we do not speak of" who live in the surrounding forest. The problem with the first two-thirds is that, directly after any moments of suspense, and even during potentially chilling conversations, the comic relief is instantly there, disrupting any constant brooding of terror in the viewer. And what's worse is that some of the moments are so cliché ridden (i.e. slow motion chase) that their cheesiness is humorous, even to the point that I would almost call the movie a comedy-thriller. That said, even Signs was more consistently suspenseful than the Village. It's also quite discouraging that the mysterious creatures of the forest are almost a subplot to the entire storyline, as much of the movie revolves around the small, contained village, and its many secrets. But, being riddled with so many secrets, such as: small mysterious black boxes, the "forbidden color", "those we do not speak of", and "the shed that is no longer used", practically every one of their answers is a let down and nowhere near as interesting as their suspense hypes, making for quite melodramatic conclusions.
And really, I had the movie figured out from its very beginning. The title scene's bombastically overdramatic attempt at eerie drumming over a bland fade-in/fade-out of tree branch images signaled one thing: lots of hype for a few moments of intensity. All I'm saying is, screw the Others-esque mystery crap, why couldn't the movie have been made entirely with people running through the woods scared shit-less? I'd rather go watch the Blair Witch Project.
- Andrew Wexler