When you score big and strike out on your first attempt you usually get creative freedom, I’ve talked about this before. The balance between trying to replicate the success and striking out and trying something new. When you’ve done this transition two more times since then, the pressure to change can be daunting. In 2004, M. Night Shyamalan took a creative leap swapping out the hustle and bustle of troubled ghosts, and metropolis spawning superheroes to a quiet 19th-century village in an aptly named film called The Village.
In a quiet 1800s village of Covington, the community is isolated, fearful of the monsters that lurk outside in the woods surrounding the neighborhood. They are taught to appreciate what the community has because that is all that they got. But when one of the residents is injured beyond the capacity of the local doctor, the group needs to risk it all and get help from beyond. One woman, a blind woman, must make a journey beyond into the unknown, alone for whatever is out there for her to face.
The protagonist Ivy, played by Bryce Dallas Howard is great here, with her father played by William Hurt serving as one of the leaders of this community. Ivy’s love interest, Joaquin Phoenix forms an unrequited love triangle with Adrian Brodey, a developmentally challenged man named, Noah Percy. They have some good scenes between them but eventually served as a catalyst for what spurs Ivy into action. Even the smaller characters have come with big names with Jesse Eisenberg in one of his earliest roles. The cast, as you can see is a who’s who of stars, that really helps the story come together.
The film’s marketing and the copious amounts of Shyamalan imply there’s a twist to the conventional story of 19th-century isolation. Without going into what it entails, I can say that It’s a nice extra that doesn’t factor into too much of the previous hour and a half. In case you didn’t like it and makes the whole film that more intriguing on a re-watch if you did.
The Village is a combination that goes for the high notes; high on drama, high on horror, high on mystery, high on utilising its cast. It feels like a departure from the usual modern sci-fi flair that Shyamalan is associated with and a more rustic tale, although teeming with monsters. The village is a nice watch that is not only worth a visit, but you might want to live there too.
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