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The Reviews :: The Village
Reviewed by Megan Larson

Covington, Pennsylvania is a village isolated from other towns by a wood, which, according to town legend, is inhabited by creatures. And they don’t mean cuddly bunnies.

The latest from M. Night Shyamalan tells the story of these creatures and their unspoken agreement with the people of the village: Stay out of our woods, we’ll stay out of your village. However, the recent death of a village boy, caused by sickness, drives Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) to request permission to travel through the woods to retrieve the medicines Covington lacks. It’s no surprise that his request is turned down by the town elders, but soon Lucius’ curiosity and desire to help causes him to set foot in the woods and let loose the chain of events that forms the rest of the movie.

The film is done in pure Shyamalan style. Lines are delivered slowly and deliberately, and some scenes seem to be played out at the same slow pace, in order that we make sure to take in everything that we are meant to see. While this makes the movie more drawn out, it adds to the overall mood of the village: drawn thin by their fear of the creatures.

Even the colors are drawn thin, or more apt, the lack of colors. The film is set in the late fall, making the leafless trees and muddy ground a fitting backdrop to the plainness of the villagers and their clothing. The cloaks of their yellow “safe color” seem to be pale here as well, and all of this adds up to a stark contrast between the villagers and the reds that attract and signify the creatures.

Although the plot may be drawn out, Shyamalan makes good on delivering the creature early on in the film, relieving us of some of the suspense. This doesn’t ruin the creepy factor, however. Later sightings are still delivered with an abruptness that will continue to make you jump in your seat.

The real standout of this film is the acting, done well by almost everyone in the cast. Almost, because William Hurt, who plays town leader Edward Walker, gives a performance more fitting for a dramatic play than a movie. However, we are treated to an excellent performance by Oscar winner Adrien Brody, playing mentally disabled Noah Percy. Sigourney Weaver does not necessarily have a standout role, but she makes her presence known in every scene she is in. Joaquin Phoenix seems to have perfected the role of a quiet, brooding leader, and Bryce Dallas Howard emerges as a powerful force in her role of Ivy Walker.

As in Signs, there is a deeper meaning to The Village than the conflict between the creatures and the villagers. Don’t cast it off as not worth seeing, especially if you like suspense. However, I’d recommend seeing the film as soon as possible, considering the high spoiler possibility and the fact that most people can’t keep their mouth shut.

Written/Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Cherry Jones

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