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051: The Village

Maximilian Rivera March 14, 2017
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By Max Rivera | @MaxRiveraFilm

Premise: After her betrothed is injured, a blind girl from a small, isolated village must survive the dangers of the wilderness and retrieve medicine for her fiancé. 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43%

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At one point in time, M. Night Shyamalan wasn’t known as the twist director. He was just a guy who made some pretty decent movies that just happened to have twists.

By the time The Village (2004) came out, Shyamalan earned that reputation. The Village went on to become a polarizing film. Some people proclaimed that it was genius, and others felt it was a huge letdown. It isn’t considered his worst work, but it definitely isn’t considered his best.

But what made The Village hit this middle-road status? Our honest assessment is that The Village falters in the storytelling and the third-act — in the climax, or lack thereof, truthfully.

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So what does The Village do right? It’s a visually stunning film, with muted fall colors and rich yellows overtaking most of the screen. If you’re unaware, Shyamalan teamed up with Roger Deakins for this go-round, and it definitely paid off.

The monsters that appear within the movie are always clad in red — also known as the bad color. Red is used as a very simple, but effective, motif. Shyamalan paints great moments of fear when characters scramble to bury anything red they come across, including flowers and berries.

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Accompanying the visuals is a strong, robust score by James Newton Howard that keeps the movie moving even when the story slows down. The music works as well as your best horror film, but it also never wanders into cheesy or stereotypical. Once again, another element that takes The Village to a great place.

Not only are we treated to beautiful, haunting tunes, but the acting is strong in this film, too. With performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas Howard, William Hurt, Adrian Brody, and Sigourney Weaver, you should expect a top notch set of performances. The characters have chemistry, and they sell both the 19th century vibe, as well as the reclusive rejection of modern society from the elders. We did debate the merits of Brody’s Noah character, but both agreed any faults would lay in the writing rather than the acting.

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Which is the overall problem with this movie. After two acts of beautiful build up, we’re brought to a climax that just falls flat. The only consequence the film gives us throughout the whole story is that a mentally deficient young man dies a hard death.

Our main character Ivy just travels through the story, but it ends without any major change. She saves her fiance, the village still exists, and everything goes back to normal. There could have been so much more punch in the end of this film, yet there isn’t.

Still, it sits well enough with us for the pieces that work. We didn’t hate this, we just hate that such potential was wasted.
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Max is a marketing copywriter by day, filmmaker and screenwriter by night. He resides in Charlotte, NC, and loves his dogs, watching movies, building LEGO sets, and eating food. Lots of food.You can find Max at his personal website and twitter.