The tiny, remote village of Covington has always maintained an fearful truce with the menacing, mysterious creatures that stalk the surrounding woods. The villagers don’t enter the forest; the creatures don’t enter the village. But when an unforeseeable tragedy happens, the villagers must send one of there own into the world outside for help, and the only way to get there is through the woods.
That’s just about all that happens in screenwriter/director M. Night Shyamalan’s spare, allegory-like story. There are the expected suspense movie shocks and jolts, and, sure, there’s also a fetching romantic subplot involving blind Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), the village loner, and a number of fine supporting performances, including those by Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, and Adrien Brody, but in the end, all it adds up to is a signature Shyamalan twist.
Like ‘Signs,’ Shyamalan’s last film, Shyamalan seems to have started with the ending of ‘The Village’ in mind, and then worked backwards, and the artifice of the story’s structure results in numerous plot holes—but you’ll have to pick those out for yourself. There are things that I liked about ‘The Village’—the acting, Roger Deakins’ cinematography, a story with a healthy sense of mystery—there just aren’t enough of them.
Matt Parks (8.26.04)