The Village

HERE'S A perfect `night' movie. It's perfect if you just want to sleep through it and wake up for the climax, which makes the trip to ``The Village'' worth it. Or it's perfect even if you want to stay awake and get a chill here and a thrill there, ``Signs'' - fiction style - the creatures are coming, coming, gone!

For best effects, M. Night Shyamalan's ``The Village'' is a movie that has to be watched at night. It's nowhere close to his classy "Sixth Sense," but it certainly is in the league of his other two plot-hole ridden yet gripping films, "Unbreakable'' and "Signs." Just follow the rules and you'll have one of the most delightfully engaging movie watching experiences of the year. First, do not entertain any conversation with anyone who has seen "TheVillage'' and wants to talk about it. "Those We Don't Speak Of'' or the creatures in the woods around the village are best left unspoken. Second, do NOT pay too much attention to the proceedings. Yes, you heard that right. Do not. If you do, you might just spoil it for yourself. Third, don't judge the film by just the beginning or the middle or the end. Like all his films, you need to keep an open mind till the movie is over before you start analysing.

Let's start from the beginning. For some reason, Shyamalan starts off his story with his characters from the village talking about "Those We Don't Speak Of'' a little too often. Like, every other scene. In this 19th century setting, the villagers have some sort of an unwritten truce with the creatures in the woods — you don't come into our territory and we won't come into yours. "Those We Don't Speak Of'' begin to haunt the villagers after a young man Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) breaches the boundary believing that the creatures do not harm those who are innocent. Because the creatures do not seem to mind the village idiot Noah (Adrien Brody) straying into the woods to pick berries of the "wrong colour" (red). That is also around the time that Lucius admits his love for the blind and beautiful Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of director Ron Howard). Lucius' mother Alice Hunt (Sigourney Weaver) and Ivy's Dad EdwardWalker (William Hurt) are among the village elders, who are the caretakers and protectors of the village affairs and a secret.

The drama begins with the interplay of all these characters (brilliant performances but too few scenes for any actor to stake a claim at the Oscars) as Shyamalan weaves his plot around a love story. You might just mistake the odd spook in the beginning for a spoof of "Koi Mil Gaya" 's hooded alien "Jadoo.'' Only, that the hooded creatures here are taller. But soon, Shyamalan compensates by coming up with scares showing nothing (just like Spielberg did with "Jaws," ), playing mind games with the audience, and beating you at it most of the time.

The scenes in the woods are sure to bring back memories of "The Blair Witch Project,'' especially with the blind Ivy not able to see what is scaring her. More than any twist or any scare, you could just watch this movie for this young promising actress, who reportedly stepped in after Spidey's girl Kirsten Dunst opted out after she signed up for Cameron Crowe's "Elizabethtown."

It is Bryce `star-material' Howard who sees this film through the dark deep woods. And no, "The Village'' is not a multi-layered, mind-bending, spine-chilling thriller for the intellectual or the super intelligent. It is a straight, simple film with simple, straight lines and a conveniently simple end.


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