The Village on DVD
Take a dash of the Amish, add a pinch of the Branch Davidians, mix in
a bit of hippiness, blend in a heaping dose of paranoia, and you may begin
to understand M. Night Shyamalans The Village.
The title village lies in a peaceful, bucolic setting surrounded by a
thick wood in which, apparently, there be dragons or some other type of
mysterious and dangerous beasties. Those beasties are the boogeythings
that keep the villagers in the village, though they also periodically
cross the boundaries of the village to sow the seeds of scariness to the
For the most part, the Village seems to be a beautiful place to live,
populated by a gentle folk who, alas, appear to also be suffering some
of the scourges of inbreeding. Or maybe theyre just a microcosm
of society in general. But below the surface there are dark secrets and
as the movie unfolds we discover that the village elders seem to know
more than theyll let on and that, far from being some religious
cult this is a group whose origins are far more mainstream than one would
Then sickness and injury rear their ugly heads and the only way to save
lives is to leave the safety of the village and seek out help from those
in the outside world. But that way leads to danger and/or madness, doesn't
The Village is a very creepy movie that has a mood of impending horror
all through it, yet it never gets really frightening in a Night of the Living Dead
type of scarefest. Its an interesting balancing act Shyamalan has
performed between horror and suspense and he pulls it off very well
more Hitchcock than Romero. And thats fine.
Theres a bit of social commentary as well as a good helping of
good old fashioned romance as well, the latter primarily thanks to the
character played by Bryce Dallas Howard (Rons daughter), who plays
Ivy Walker. Even though shes surrounded by veterans such as William
Hurt, Sigouney Weaver and Joaquin Phoenix, she holds her own and, really,
is the person who really makes the movie work. We have a feeling well
be seeing a lot more of her.
The DVD is very good, though unfortunately as is so common these days
theyve seen fit to release both anamorphic widescreen and Pan&Scan
versions under separate cover. We recommend (and, fortunately, received)
the widescreen version, especially if you have a 16x9 Television set.
The picture quality is very good, sharp and rich and without artifacts.
Audio, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, is also very good.
For extras, you get a series of deleted scenes with introductions by
the director himself, and a feature Deconstructing The Village
which is basically a making of thingy. You also get Bryce's
Diary, a special M. Night Shyamalan home movie, and a production
The Village, from Touchstone Home Entertainment
anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1, 16x9 TV compatible)/Pan&Scan (sold
separately), Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
Starring William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas
written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Here's another take, courtesy of Screen
M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village is not the kind of movie you can
think too much about before, during, and after you watch it.
The man has given us such fine films as The Sixth Sense, Signs, and to
a lesser extent, Unbreakable. The Village is certainly the same kind of
movie, but it’s not as good.
In a remote village in the woods of somewhere, three generations of people
are just doing their thing. They work hard, they play hard, but for the
love of God they never enter the woods. For beyond the borders of the
town lie some mysterious creatures. For years there has been an understanding:
the people of the village never enter the woods, and the creatures never
enter the town.
But things don’t always work out as you hope. One of the villagers
breaks the rules and heads out into the woods, giving the creatures the
perfect opportunity to harass the townsfolk. And then when it becomes
necessary to make a trek to a nearby town for medicines, we start to really
see what’s going on.
The Village is 108 minutes long, but only features a handful of interesting
scenes. There’s incessant talking, lots and lots of story and character
to develop, and you know you have to pay attention to look for the “clues”
that will help you determine the final act.
Many consider this to be Shyamalan’s weakest effort to date, and
it’s hard to disagree. While his other films were labors of love,
this one feels a bit rushed, as though he only made this movie to fulfill
a contract or what not. Some of the holes are never filled, some of the
questions never answered. It even seems like the creatures were only included
to put it in the same category as his other films.
It’s been written that people in the theatre “laughed hysterically”
during the final twenty minutes. That’s a bit harsh. While the big
secret in The Village is not in the same league as The Sixth Sense, it’s
actually a pretty clever twist that at least I didn’t see coming,
and in fact had to think about afterwards to see if it even made sense.
Without actors who could hold the movie together, it probably would have
been a huge mess. Joaquin Phoenix, Adrian Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney
Weaver and Brendan Gleeson all keep things going pretty smoothly. But
it’s Bryce Dallas Howard (yes, Ron Howard’s daughter) as the
lovely and blind Ivy that steals every second of the film. She deserves
many kudos for her work here, but will probably go unnoticed based on
the poor response to the movie.
I found The Village to be an entertaining and somewhat boring (at times)
movie that reeks of M. Night Shyamalan. If you’re willing enough
to sit back and enjoy it and aren’t expecting to be blown away,
things should turn out okay. However, if you’re extremely judgmental
about your movies, it’s best to let this one sit on the shelf.
It’s hard to decide if the film was a hit or not (it opened to
$55 million and closed to about $115 million), but it still gets a pretty
good DVD. Video quality, presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, is
clear and sharp, with a great blend of high and low light conditions.
Fleshtones are always clean, colors are done well, and the detail is gorgeous.
The creatures are always out of focus (and you know this was the intent
of the filmmaker), but they’re always just in focus enough to make
out intriguing details, and the picture quality does not detract from
The Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track doesn’t have a lot to do, but does
it well. There are constantly noises coming from the back of the room
(a la the woods), leaves rustling and creatures creaking, but they’re
just barely there – or are they there at all? Oftentimes it can
be hard to understand the characters, but it’s more because they’re
whispering and muffling their voices rather than anything else. The score
adds a bit of intensity, while the subwoofer rumbles so much you can feel
your stomach shaking.
“Deconstructing The Village” is a 25-minute making-of piece.
It covers everything from casting, all the way up to scoring the film.
While it’s not long enough to really be comprehensive, it does cover
everything in just enough detail to not get sick of it. A series of deleted
scenes sheds a bit more light on things, and a few of them should have
been left in the film to help things along. “Bryce’s Diary”
is a bunch of excerpts from the leading lady’s diary, in which she
talks about her experiences making the movie. It’s kinda cute, but
all in all not all that engrossing. Finally, we get a production photo
gallery and some trailers, including a really lame one for the upcoming
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The Village, from Touchstone Home Entertainment
108 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Adrian Brody, Bryce Dallas Howard, William Hurt,
Sigourney Weaver, Brendan Gleeson
Produced by Scott Rudin and Sam Mercer
Written, produced and directed by M. Night Shyamalan
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