Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Movie Review: "The Village" (2004)

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Movie"The Village"
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Year: 2004
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

The people of a small 19th century village surrounded by forest live in isolation. They are kept this way by deadly creatures that inhabit the surrounding woods that kill anyone that dare to enter. Jealousy in the small village leads to a violent crime, leaving a young man named Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix) on his death bed. In response, his blind girlfriend Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard) asks permission of the elders to cross the forbidden forest and go to the nearby towns to asks for medicine to save the life of her true love. 

When reviewing a film like "The Village," it's really, really hard to get into the details of the plot without spoiling things, so we will try our best not to give too much away as there are a few twists and turns throughout the film. When this movie's predecessor "Signs" came out in 2002, it was relatively well received by critics and audiences, but has since started to receive a bit of a backlash of negative criticism as people have started to pick it apart. On the other hand, "The Village" received a very mixed reaction when it came out with quite a bit of negative criticism directed towards it, but has since had the opposite phenomenon as "Signs." It has received growing support over the years and a bit of a cult following, and we can sort of see why. "The Village" has a lot of interesting elements to it, sure, but it's a movie that is hard to market, and was apparently marketed wrong and misleadingly back in the day. It has elements of horror, suspense, mystery, drama, and romance, but the marketing team went with promoting it as a straight monster horror flick, setting an expectation that is never met during the film. This was and is still a huge letdown to some people, but less so now that it has been over a decade since its release. Like we said, the horror element is there, but it is not the core of the film. The people who live in this village chose to live there because the towns are too dangerous. They fear to leave the village because the woods are too dangerous, but when all is said and done, the real danger comes from within the village itself, and such is the nature of man. It's when jealousy strikes and anger takes over when one of the townspeople is attacked, not by the so-called creatures living in the surrounding woods or the evil people of the big towns, but by one of their own. This movie is about perception verses reality, that what we perceive as safe can be very dangerous, and how those we perceive as dangerous could one day be your best hope for survival. Not everything is as it seems when it comes to their tight-knit community, and as secrets get revealed slowly throughout the film, mysteries unravel and truths are revealed.

We can see why this film has garnered a growing support as we enjoyed it more upon a second viewing. BigJ knew the twists and turns, but I had completely forgotten since it had been about a decade since we originally saw it. Seeing the broader message and grasping it in the context of a bigger picture, it is all too gripping and thought-provoking to dislike. It has a very good and impressive cast in Bryce Dallas Howard (her feature film debut), Joaquin Phoenix (who has minimal screen time, but is effective in it nonetheless), William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Judy Greer, Adrien Brody, Brendan Gleeson, and even a young Jesse Eisenberg. Most of these actors do a very good job in their respective roles. Shyamalan also uses some great camera work here and displays a lot of beautiful cinematography and use of color as he often does. Plus, he's in the film in a very small part, not an epic core actor like he is and distractingly so in "Lady in the Water." The biggest knock we have against "The Village" is its pacing. It feels slow quite a few times and also takes a long time to reveal any twists. Overall, though, this movie gets unfairly panned as being one of the worst movies ever made, to which we say, watch "The Gallows" or "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" and call us in the morning.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 43%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "I, Frankenstein"


  1. I really enjoyed this movie. It is one of those movies that you either love it or you hate it with a passion. I need to rewatch it.

    1. It is a lot better than people think! We avoided the trailer when it came out, so we never had any expectations about it, and if people give it a chance, it's really a good film!