The Village (2004)
Main cast: Bryce Dallas Howard (Ivy Walker), Joaquin Phoenix (Lucius Hunt), Adrien Brody (Noah Percy), William Hurt (Edward Walker), Sigourney Weaver (Alice Hunt), and Brendan Gleeson (August Nicholson)
Director: M Night Shyamalan

The Village, on the bright side, is filled with less plotholes than the last M Night Shyamalan's overpadded episode from The Twilight Zone, Signs. I don't know what kind of photos he has of Joaquin Phoenix but Mr Shyamalan manages to get Mr Phoenix to appear in The Village again. However, the revelation at the end is indescribably stupid, barely better than having the blind heroine Ivy Walker waking up and realizing that everything is a dream as her beau Lucius Hunt steps out of the shower. Wait, I think I like that Dallas-type revelation better because then I'd at least get to see Joaquin Phoenix in a shower.

Set in what seems like an Amish village of sorts, I am introduced to several characters. There's the village mayor Edward Walker and his blind daughter Ivy. Ivy likes Lucius Hunt but Lucius is annoying the elders with his constant petition to be allowed to explore the world outside the village. Noah Percy is Lucius' friend in a Rain Man manner. The village is surrounded by woods where it is said that creatures - the fae, the monsters, the terrorists, I don't know - lurk within. Apparently the people of the village have signed a pact with these Those We Do Not Speak Of critters where the Unspeakable Creatures will leave the humans alone if they do not intrude on the Unspeakable Creatures' home turf. But one day, it looks like someone has broken the pact. Hey, why is everyone looking at Lucius? (Ivy, of course, can't look for obvious reasons.)

Events pile up in dramatically lethargic pace until I nearly snooze off by the midpoint of this movie. Sometime in his last two movies, Mr Shyamalan stops being a director and a scriptwriter and starts instead turning into a piece of ham. He approaches this movie with a ridiculously somber manner that he comes this close to crossing the line to outright self-parody. He is a heavy-handed director because he telegraphs his instructions to the audience through his scenes the way a crazy football coach will yell at his team. When he wants the audience to be scared, he will slow down the pace and makes sure that every thing on the screen is so filled with anvils that the audience will have no doubt that Mr Shyamalan is trying to be an Intelligent Horror Movie Director.

But fine, I'm still with the movie until he pulls this ending on me that explains very well the otherwise idiotic premise of the villagers forcing blind Ivy to cross the woods in a scene straight of Little Red Riding Hood (which no doubt must have somehow inspired this movie) but otherwise causes the entire movie to make no sense. I mean, hello, don't they have psychiatric treatments for this kind of people who will pull off that kind of stunt with the whole Unspeakable Creatures thingie? I find myself thinking that it is actually better for this movie to end without me discovering that wretchedly lame and anticlimatic revelation at the end. Especially when I seem to recall clearly at least three episodes of The Twilight Zone that pull that same stunt on me too, and at least the TV show doesn't drag on and on like a lethargic sloth for two hours of hot air leading to a deflating ending!

Perhaps it's time for Mr Shyamalan find some new tricks for his next movie. The whole revolving a movie around the ending "surprise revelation" gimmick of his is wearing thin especially when this revelation more often than not ends up compromising his movie. Come to think of it, maybe this movie is his personal The Twilight Zone episode: I end up wondering how he gets people like Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, and Brendan Gleeson to star in this overpadded third-rate mimicry of the TV series. Only, as they say, in the twilight zone?

Rating: 74

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