August 9, 2004

The Village

M. Night Shyamalan is at it again, this time in ye old thriller, The Village. I am not going to bother spoiling it for you, there are plenty of reviews out there for it already, but I will tell you that its not worth the price of admission. While the movie remains a treat for the eyes, and Shyamalan proves he is one of the best directors in recent years, the story is still boring and uneven, and Shyamalan continues to be an awful writer. The movie is made up of bad dialogue, saved only partially by a few noteworthy performances, and a plot that amounts to one big pill to swallow.

Was it as wretched as Signs? Hmmm. I haven’t decided. I try not to think about Signs too much anymore. Though I will say this, Shyamalan learned his lesson from his last movie. Signs was full of so many loose ends and contradictions that it made Shyamalan throw his mug on screen yet again in the closing minutes of The Village to force feed us a nice neat package of plot-spackle. No loose ends here folks, *phew* that was a close one.

I got to see The Village with a friend who was a villager extra in the film, and she brought further grief by telling me about the original ending, which was astoundingly worse. I am surprised, with how much creative control he is able to maintain, that Shyamalan still resorts to movie-closeout “gotchas”. Doesn’t he feel like a one-trick-pony? Shyamalan is like a friend you know who can dislocate their shoulder and is always getting asked to do so at parties and social gatherings. I would think after four movies it would leave him reeling “Hey guys! I can do other things too! Seriously! Guys?”.

Commentary (24):

1. RJ Hampden says… aug 9, 2004 | 9:30 am

I’d’ve liked it a lot more if the story was the story in this song.

2. Bob Cieszkowski says… aug 9, 2004 | 9:42 am

I agree with your assesment 100%. Never again will I be swindled out of my money by Shamalamadingdong. In my estimation he is one of Hollywood’s most overrated directors.

3. RJ Hampden says… aug 9, 2004 | 9:57 am

And what kind of middle name is Night??
That’s almost as bad as having Santa as a middle name.

4. PeterSantaMaria says… aug 9, 2004 | 9:59 am

M. Night Shyamalan is such a TERRIBLE writer. Everything he does comes off like a realy bad, 3rd rate Twilight Zone episode.

Looks like we’ll just have to wait for Romero’s “Land of the Dead” for a good horror flick…

5. Matt Cahill says… aug 9, 2004 | 10:11 am

Is there any chance you could elaborate on the original ending? I’d like to think my money was less wasted if I knew it was going to be worse!

6. Todd says… aug 9, 2004 | 10:23 am

I agree with you on Signs…if I hadn’t paid full price at night I would have walked out. Terrible movie.

The Village was not as bad as I thought it was going to be but fell very flat in terms of story and writing. I think that Shyamalan is a good director but his writing does leave a lot to be desired. It would be interesting to see how he would direct someone else’s script but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

And I think I know which ending you’re talking about…if that would have been left in there would have been riots in the theaters.

7. Peter Santa Maria says… aug 9, 2004 | 11:10 am

I have a friend who worked on the crew for this movie, as well as the other Shamalamadingdong flicks, and the original ending that I was told was that the “red marks” on the doors of the villagers houses were for a construction company that was coming to tear them down. The “monsters” in the flick that the villagers are so terrified of? Construction equipment, like earth movers and wrecking balls and such. See, “The Village” was supposedly a bunch of people that left society behind and started up their own new civilization from the rest of the modern world, and they basically lost any sense of sanity…

I gots three words for ya about that ending: WORST… ENDING… EVER…

I don’t mean to come off sounding like some geek on Ain’t It Cool News or something, but I just think Shyamalan is such a hollywood hack.

8. Greg says… aug 9, 2004 | 11:34 am

What’s wrong with Signs? Tell me your skin didn’t crawl when Mel looked out the window and you could barely make out the creature on the top fo the barn. It was a very entertaining film.

As for The Village why not just say what’s wrong with it in detail — spoilers be damned.

9. Jason Santa Maria says… aug 9, 2004 | 11:40 am

Hey, I am not here to ruin it for everyone :D

There are plenty of places online to read about the ending and shit.

I don’t think it was worse than Signs. Signs was bottom of the barrel. But, let me clarify, I love the way his films look and feel. As a director, he is great at evoking mood and suspense, I just don’t think his films have very much substance upon reflection… especially Signs. So, I agree with you, the alien deal on the roof was cool for suspense, but that’s where the buck stops.

10. ped says… aug 9, 2004 | 11:46 am

The dialogue didn’t bother me so much after the end reveal - it actually made sense at that point. I’m not saying it’s a gem of a movie, just that whether planned or not, the poor dialogue helped me buy into the end.

11. Todd says… aug 9, 2004 | 12:07 pm

“What’s wrong with Signs?”

Just didn’t enjoy the movie, plain and simple. Again, it was directed very well (that shot of the alien on the roof was very good) but the dialogue and characterizations were terrible. I also found the pacing to be excruciatingly slow.

After I started knowing what lines would come next was when I wanted to leave the theater.

But that’s just one person’s opinion. I know a lot of people that like that movie.

12. John Nick Pull says… aug 9, 2004 | 12:10 pm

I thought Unbreakable was bottomer-of-the-barrel than Signs.

As for Signs, the plot point of Mel Gibson’s wife’s death was a rehash of an episode of “Homicide,” with Vincent D’Onofrio in the, ehm, tight position.

13. Jeff Werner says… aug 9, 2004 | 2:51 pm

Without resorting to parodies of his name (pronounced Shaw-ma-lawn), I too have a number of issues with this director’s films. However, credit is due to a man who, if his popularity among the majority of Hollywood film goers says anything, is a master storyteller, a true entertainer for his era. For afilm student perspective on The Village, I’ve written up a short essay. Summary: the film’s a metaphor and justification for contemporary America’s political ideology, its follies and its control of knowledge.

14. wayne says… aug 9, 2004 | 5:09 pm

your essay is nice, jeff, but i think it gives shyamalan too much credit. while one CAN make a case for a political/sociological reading of the film, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough correlative meat (possible bbne entry?) to flesh out or justify such a reading. sure, the writer/director may tell you it’s a commentary on the bush administration’s aura of secrecy, but in shyamalan’s case, that kind of substantial subtext seems to be rendered virtually invisible by his penchant for the sizzle of plot gimmickry and facile characterization. to me, he seems like a writer/director who works best with “stories” rather than complex investigations or explorations. this isn’t to denigrate him (wholly)—there’s a place for him under the cinematic tent. but i too would like to see what he could do with someone else’s well-crafted story instead of his own dodgy writing. i think you’re right to see symbolism in this movie, but there’s a difference between a symbol and a meaningful sign. you’d think the director of “signs” might know that.

15. niff says… aug 9, 2004 | 5:15 pm

i actually enjoyed the movie. i loved the color and feel, and i along with everyone else admit that it was lacking. but most movies do now a days. i wasnt mad either by the ending because i know shyamalan’s thing. i saw it coming and i saw that what was coming, was going to be a bit dissapointing. but in all, i definitally didnt hate it. course, i am a visual gal, and most of the time that can make me like a bad movie. case in point…sleepy hallow.

16. Greg says… aug 10, 2004 | 12:39 am

The only thing that ruins M. Night’s movies are the child actors. After a while they start to get on my nerves. Oh and I second that Unbreakable was the bottom of the barrel — at least so far.

17. tom says… aug 10, 2004 | 9:03 am

I grew up in the woods of PA…so this movie spoke volumes to me. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m not sure how most of you can live with yourselves by over anaylizing everything. I think all Mr. Night’s movies have been very entertaining and beautiful.

But hey, that’s just my opinion…and I’m a dumb as they come.

18. Justin says… aug 10, 2004 | 2:14 pm

Shyamalan’s first two films were not only stylistically remarkable, but commendable for the way they present the world’s mysteries as unexplainable.

Signs marked a departure from these in its attempt to resolve the mysteries. Which would be fine if it hadn’t employed theological tripe for the task. Whatever happens, it asserts, happens for a reason — that is, for some cosmic good. The water glasses, the dying words: all to defeat the aliens. Mel Gibson returns to his church.

A vulgar answer to an ancient problem, wrapped in pretty paper for public consumption. This is how we learn to avert our eyes.

Jason, even without your warning I would not have bought a ticket.

19. Bill says… aug 10, 2004 | 2:19 pm

Haven’t seen “The Village” yet, but I have to disagree with those who thought “Unbreakable” was the bottom of the barrel. I liked it as much, if not more than “Sixth Sense”.

20. Christian says… aug 12, 2004 | 12:47 am

All his movies would have been better half hour twighlight zone episodes rather than movies that you have to shell out nine bucks to see.

Just my two cents.

21. ericville says… aug 14, 2004 | 7:21 pm

i gotta say that your assessment of the Village fit mine almost 100%…

the film had me lauphing most of the way threw it, but at the end of the movie i just sat there thinking… “was that supposed to be the end?!?” …piiiiiiiiitiful :P

/i must say, though, i did love the color shades used and the camera lighting… great use of color.

22. Raven says… aug 15, 2004 | 11:02 pm

Well I liked the Unbreakable - nice movie. But i think he’s just doing the same all the time. Anyway I can’t say Village was stupid, it wasn’t. But it was nothing new. :(

23. Jason says… aug 23, 2004 | 1:22 pm

I was quite entertained by it. Slightly disappointed by the reality that was revealed, but that’s just because I don’t like Scooby Doo endings where it’s just “old man higgins” in a monster suit.

That being said, I thought it was very well made, well acted, and it worked for me. And I was terrified that I would hate it. Of course, I had also heard that ridiculous construction crew ending too. . . so maybe I was just expecting the worst.

24. yeya says… oct 11, 2004 | 1:47 pm

google but me here too.
I loved all your comments. I just saw the movie yesterday and paid only a buck to see it. I’m glad I only paid a buck because I would have been mad if I would have paid eight for a movie that was good, but not great like sixth sense. I really enjoyed night’s 1th triller, but I hated unbreakable (not the idea, but the story and ending). Not a fan of signs either (loved the suspence, but what a stupid way to kill an alien (water?). Well, I enjoyed the story of the Village.
The Village is Night’s second best movie.