It takes M. Night to build one...

Can't sleep. The clock shows it's past three in the morning. Is it because I've seen M. Night Shyamalan's The Village? Or perhaps some more sinister reason?

Ah, The Village... what is this movie about? I seem to have some time on my hands, so I might as well explore this a bit. Without giving away too much, I'd have to say this "period" piece is all about being trapped by fear. A fear of one's own choosing. A fear bound up in needless complexities to fit a particular filmmaking style, which could have worked better more simply.

A little sketch of our starting point: the residents of this particular village - a small nineteenth century community surrounded by the woods - are afraid to leave their little enclave of safety. There are these creatures, you see, out there which will hurt them. Somehow, they've created a truce with them to leave each other alone, but apparently said truce is on shaky grounds as the creatures are sneaking around shaving dead poodles and making reductionist paintings on the everyone's front door.

So, yes, a scary movie it is, which you would think would be a great pairing with that whole fear business I was talking about.

The biggest mistake Shyamalan makes is in glossing over the consequences of this dangerous fear... Sure, the film is driven home by the villagers' need for outside assistance, but the film is caught up in stringing together its individual moments and we lose sight of the medical condition that basically becomes the pretext to bring the film to its climax. Granted, working out some pressing immediacy to the situation would be tricky with the given circumstances, but that's no excuse, merely a sign that someone's written themselves into a corner.

At times I think I see a political statement here, one of anti-isolationism, perhaps even an anti-war statement. The latter may be a stretch, and I probably am just seeing the possibilities that could have been. Shyamalan is a gifted writer, and from what I've seen, his ideas succeed or fail on their own merits, not from poor execution. I suspect, in fact, a lack of interest in the political with him.

I do feel The Village is a step up from his last film, Signs, but not by a lot. I would go so far to say as his execution dropped a tad in The Village - which, face it, it is hard to keep that kind of quality of for long. My advice would be to mix things up a bit, kind of how Paul Thomas Anderson did with Punch-Drunk Love. What I do like about The Village is what it's trying to do with it's ideas. It's reaching for something higher than Signs did, and while it doesn't quite work, it does come closer.

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Review: Hmmm...what to say... star5/10 SillyconJester

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