> Volume 6 > Number 31


M. Night Shyamalan

Bryce Dallas Howard
Joaquin Phoenix
Adrien Brody
William Hurt
Sigourney Weaver
Brendan Gleeson
Cherry Jones
Celia Weston

Release: 30 Jul. 04

The Village


That loud sound you might have heard was M. Night Shyamalan’s career shattering after falling from a thirtieth floor penthouse. The self-absorbed filmmaker behind such twist-ending mood pieces as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs (kudos goes to his handlers for making people forget his first studio film, Wide Awake), delivers his latest magic trick with the type of egotistical superiority that befits a man creating his own destruction. If his career survives this contemporary equivalent of Heaven’s Gate, I’d be truly impressed.

Yet, as I must always say about Shyamalan’s works, the film looks so good. Working with cinematographer Roger Deakins and supplementing his shots with a beautiful score by James Newton Howard, his technical achievement is never really in question. But he’s evidently so intent on twisting his films into unpredictable pretzels that he’s lost notice of how inept the twists have become. While I was willing to give him a slight pass for Signs, this is just rotten to the core. I’ve long said that The Sixth Sense is a horrible film with a fantastic ending -- at least with The Village, he’s consistently bad from beginning to end.

I cannot say just how tempting it is to write about the film’s twist, partly because I feel the need to ridicule it out of contempt for its silliness, partly in hopes that telling it might dissuade readers from seeing The Village. I’ll keep mum, though, because I know that even if I told the twist, you’d still go; there’s no way you’d believe that Shyamalan, Touchstone, and the cast and crew involved in this production would have let a film this bad go into the marketplace. They did let it happen, so enter at your own risk

©2004, David Perry,, 30 July 2004