WARNING: SPOILERS LURK DEEP WITHIN THIS THOROUGH THRASHING OF M. NIGHT SUCKATHON'S THE VILLAGE.
Being someone whose never really joined in on the M. Night Shyamalan circle jerk, it's fair to say my expectations for The Village were already pretty low. That is to say, if Night could make it through the picture without throwing water on the entire cast and calling it a resolution, I might have been mildly pleased. After all, what the guy lacks in writing talent (and there's a whole lotta lackin' going on) he makes up for in his ability to create some honest to goodness suspense. But sadly, my friends, The Village is the most graceless pile of crap that's ever passed through Shyamalan's rectum -- and I'm including that maudlin coming-of-age movie that put Rosie O'Donnell in a nun's outfit and Denis Leary into some sort of walking coma.
The villagers are purported to live in the 1800s. You can tell because when the townsfolk speak, they never use contractions and they say the word "fortnight" every ten minutes. Even when there's no real reason for it. For example: "My father could take a dollar and turn it into five in less than a fortnight." This is apparently the only old-timey word Night bothered to look up, because he misses the opportunity to have any of the distressed damsels exclaim something like, "Alas, Papa, I am afeared! The creatures that lurk in yon woods shall breach the borders forthwith!"
And oh, those silly creatures. They're referred to as Those We Do Not Speak Of, though we only know that because they're spoken of in every other fucking scene. For what feels like six consecutive fortnights, all the unseen beasts ever do is skin a few animals that look curiously like chihuahuas. That is, until the brooding Lucius, played by a persistently annoying Joaquin Phoenix, walks about eight feet into the woods and pisses them off.
Lucius is constantly referred to as a brave, unafraid (er... unafeared), fearless, etc., but this is contrary to all available evidence. He speaks to the village elders by reading pre-written speeches in a shaky voice a la Chris Klein in Election, and avoids all forms of human contact, including the advances of a spirited blind girl named Ivy. (Moment of seriousness: Ivy's played by Bryce Dallas "Daughter of Ron" Howard, and it's a distinguished debut. She's the real thing, unfortunately stuck in this dreck.) Ivy also makes the village idiot, played by Adrien Brody, go weak in the knees.
Let me just stop here and say how mindnumbingly offensive Brody's character is. Apparently angling for the Oscar nomination reserved for lovable retarded characters, Brody's Noah Percy drools and claps and squeals with glee at completely inappropriate times. Apparently, Night never watched one goddamn episode of Life Goes On, cuz even Corky Thatcher could tell you that a retard can sense fear when an entire village is running around and screaming. See, I may sound like I'm being a jerk, but I'm just responding to what Shyamalan puts onscreen. This is not a flawed, three-dimensional mentally challenged character like Leonardo DiCaprio's Arnie in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. This is Stock Character 506: Cuddly Little Retard. But when conflict must arise, he becomes the not-so-much cuddly-as-unspeakably-violent retard (Not many writers are stupid enough to touch that with a ten foot pole). More on this later.
Anyway...the creatures invade the town one night, the villagers go apeshit and hide underneath the floorboards, and Those We Totally Speak Of All the Time leave red paint marks on the doors and kill a bunch of livestock. Off-screen, of course, because Night's from the Blair Witch School of "Let's have the foley artists do all the suspense work!" We do get out first glimpse of Those We're Still Speaking Of here. They look like mutated porcupines by way of Little Red Riding Hood, which is exactly what it sounds like.
But don't be too critical of the creatures' look, though, because...dun dun DUN....Those Who, Let's Face It, We Can't Stop Speaking Of don't actually exist! The village elders totally punk'd the young'uns! See, there's a big bad world beyond those woods and the parents don't want their children exposed to all the violence and turmoil. Unfortunately for them, they've got one violent and devious retard in their midst, and when Lucius gets engaged to Ivy, Noah stabs the ever-loving shit out of him in a jealous, retarded rage.
So someone must go through the deep, dark woods into the dreaded outside world for medicine, which was another horror the elders felt they could do without (Apparently, no one's ever even drawn blood in this village). Whom shall we send all by their lonesome for this dangerous task? I know! THE BLIND GIRL! Now it just gets sad.
Ivy, being the only non-elder who knows the secret of the creatures, wanders fearlessly through the woods for about three seconds, until a voiceover tells us that we should start getting spooked right about now. "There were legends in the history books that creatures really did lurk in the woods," her father explains. And wouldn't you know, a mutated porcupine appears! Man, it looks exactly like the costumes created by the elders! Imagine that! Ivy's too smart for Those We Call A Porcupine, however, and she dispatches of it pretty quickly. But wait...that's not a porcupine at all! Dun dun DUN! That's Noah Percy! Apparently, while being held in a quiet room, he happened upon a Those We're Completely Tired Of costume the elders had inexplicably hidden beneath the floorboards and decided to hunt Ivy, whom he had no way of knowing had entered the woods. Man, you just cannot keep a scrappy retard down! Until, of course, you lure him into a conveniently located hunter's trap. Bye, Noah. That'll teach you to be retarded.
So, FINALLY, Ivy makes it to "the town", which...you know, fuck the "dun dun DUN" business, because we're already bored shitless by this point and don't care anymore. Yeah, boom-cha! It's not even the 1800s! It's present day! Apparently, the elders didn't only wanna escape the evil, outside world...they wanted to return to simpler, colonial times or some such bullshit. Maybe Ivy's father, a history professor at Penn, was all, "Look, I'm the one funding this embarrassing venture, so you'll dress like Betsy Ross and that's final!"
But Ivy's blind, so she has no clue that the kindly gentleman who gives her medicine is actually a park ranger with an SUV. He reports to his boss, M. Night Shyamalan himself, who is so tired of simply writing the clunky exposition that he actually has to appear in a cameo to speak some more of it! The village is a wildlife preserve and a no-fly zone! Oh, well, that clears it all up then. Except of course, for the questions like...where the fuck are they getting all this unseen livestock? How long till they resort to inbreeding? Hell...I could go on for a fortnight. Anyway, since Ivy doesn't know it's actually 2004 and that the monster who attacked her was actually a jilted retard, she returns to the village and the myth of Those The Audience Wasn't Scared Of lives on.
It's been written that Sigourney Weaver was so scared when she read this screenplay, she had nightmares for a week (or mayhaps, a fortnight?) after. I'm wondering what was so scary. The only disturbing thing I can remember is that it's become quite clear Shyamalan fancies himself a latter day Hitchcock, when he's actually becoming more of a latter day Ed Wood -- filming horrible material and too in love with himself to realize it's utter shit. If he really wanted to reference Hitch, he coulda pulled a Dial M for Murder. Make the movie 3-D, Night, and then you could've had a scene in which Ivy appears to beat the audience over the head with her walking stick, screaming, "It's a 9/11 allegory! Don't you see? Dear God, DON'T YOU SEE?"
Hire new writers, you hack. I mean, seriously...if something's not being impeded by a weakness to water in your movies, we're loaded with heavy-handed use of the color red. Using red thematically doesn't making you a fucking auteur! Every director in the history of cinema from William Wyler to Darren Aronofsky has done it, and much more effectively than you! Get a new schtick! Preferably one that doesn't involve filmmaking.
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