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THE VILLAGE

There are monsters in the woods, but you shouldn't talk about them and you definitely shouldn't visit them. But what if they decide to visit you?

CAST: Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Adrien Brody, Judy Greer, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Pitt, Cherry Jones, Jayne Atkinson, Celia Weston, Fran Kranz

WRITER/DIRECTOR: M. Night Shyamalan

“The film's ridiculousness would not be so irksome if Mr. Shyamalan did not take his sleight of hand so seriously, if he did not insist on dressing this scary, silly, moderately clever fairy tale in a somber cloak of allegory. I suppose it is to his credit that he wants the audience to think — about fear, security and the fine line between rationality and superstition — as well as tremble, but his ideas are as sloppy and obvious as his direction is elegant and restrained...At times you do sit up in your chair and crane your neck, as if you could see around the next bend of the story and glimpse what's coming. Then you do see it, and you burst out laughing.” --A. O. Scott, The New York Times

"‘The Village’ is a colossal miscalculation, a movie based on a premise that cannot support it, a premise so transparent it would be laughable were the movie not so deadly solemn... M. Night Shyamalan is a director of considerable skill who evokes stories out of moods, but this time, alas, he took the day off...Critics were enjoined after the screening to avoid revealing the plot secrets. That is not because we would spoil the movie for you. It's because if you knew them, you wouldn't want to go.” --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"‘The Village,’ the new film by the acclaimed M. Night Shyamalan of ‘The Sixth Sense’ and ‘Signs’ fame, proves two things: He is a master of the old-school film craft that emphasizes atmosphere and character over action; and he is riding a one-trick pony and that poor pony is nearly dead...‘The Village’ yields a trick ending quite lame, quite tame and quite old; Rod Serling thought of it 40 years ago and he did it better...Shyamalan really has to do some reconsidering. His surprises simply don't work anymore, because we expect them...For his next movie, he should forget the big twist thing. He has only one surprise left, and it would be the best surprise: no surprise at all, only drama.” –Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

“It's official. M. Night Shyamalan is a one-trick pony...He uses the illusionist's trick of misdirection, getting the audience to focus on the surface events of the story while he slips around behind us and arranges a lollapalooza of a third-act surprise. But it is just one trick, and with ‘The Village,’ a story of a small town plagued by fear, this trick has gotten old. ‘The Village’ is Shyamalan's weakest story, and its ending -- whether or not you're surprised by it -- is a genuine clinker....An air of clumsy morbidness hangs over this whole enterprise...when the last rabbit is pulled from Shyamalan's hat, it's almost laughably silly.” --Jack Mathews, New York Daily News

“It must be tough being M. Night Shyamalan [shown at right]...As the writer-director of’ ‘The Sixth Sense,’ ‘Unbreakable,’ ‘Signs,’ and now ‘The Village,’ he has to keep coming up with socko switcheroo endings. He’s the O. Henry of portentous supernaturalism. ‘The Village’ is, literally, about the power of love to conquer fear—another hot seller, no doubt. For those who just want a good scare, rest assured the best (and worst) of it comes across as ‘Wait Until Dark’ meets ‘The Blair Witch Project.’” --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

“M. Night Shyamalan has nothing to say, but he's going to keep right on saying it until people make him stop...Many, even most, of the individual scenes in ‘The Village’ are labored, emotionally false and desperately earnest, and this has a pernicious effect on Shyamalan's direction of the actors...‘The Village’ plays like a slow-motion version of the ‘Twilight Zone’-- and on an off night, no less -- with a gimmicky premise and achingly predictable turns of plot.” --Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

“In crafting a film about the ways fear can manipulate -- are there really creatures of mass destruction in the woods? -- Shyamalan gives the film a metaphorical weight that goes deeper than goose bumps. He may find himself linked with Michael Moore as a political provocateur. "Do your best not to scream your loudest," Edward tells Ivy when he opens a woodshed and uncovers long-buried secrets. It's a wicked invitation for the audience to scream its head off. Go for it. But do your best not to miss the dark implications that empower ‘The Village’ to haunt your dreams.” --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“The premise is kids-book-simple: The villagers stay out of the woods and Those We Don't Speak Of stay out of the village. But when someone ventures into the woods, Those We Don't Speak Of start skinning the livestock and making all kinds of scary trouble...No one can accuse Shyamalan of rushing things. Even though every scene is rife with a kind of low-grade foreboding, the first 45 minutes seem as long as a winter night without cable...Bryce Dallas Howard [shown above], daughter of director Ron Howard, makes an impressive, intelligent debut as Ivy, Edward Hunt's blind daughter and Lucius' eventual fiance, but even she struggles with all the stilted blather.” --Karen Karbo, The Oregonian

“Though there is substantial drama and plenty to chew on after the closing credits, if you expect terror, you may walk away musing: ‘Is that all there is?’... The dialogue often sounds stilted, and the timing of revelations makes the ending anticlimactic. ‘The Village’ emerges as a victim of its own ambitions. At one point, Edward advises Ivy: ‘Do your very best not to scream.’ That doesn't require much restraint on our part.” --Claudia Puig, USA Today

“It doesn't exactly take a village to guess his trademark ‘surprise’ ending -- I did -- by carefully watching the very first scene. A gifted director and visual stylist, Shyamalan's scripts sadly have gotten progressively clunkier, from ‘Unbreakable’ to ‘Signs’...‘The Village’ pours on creepy atmosphere, but this dud is too intent on delivering its liberal ‘message’ to actually deliver the kinds of scares it promises in the terrific trailer.” –Lou Lumenick

“Equal parts striking images and striking attitudes, this excruciatingly slow and deliberate movie stars a long-faced William Hurt as the village leader and a very promising Bryce Dallas Howard (daughter of Ron) as his blind daughter...Far too late in the day, the movie wakes itself up in time to indulge in some bizarre plot leaps designed to leave us slack-jawed... Shyamalan has been lauded for the ‘purity’ and ‘spirituality’ of his vision: In fact, he’s slipped into a reflexively anti-modern Puritanism, hitched to a faux-Christian mysticism that tallies all too well with the cut-rate spiritualism of our times.” --Ella Taylor, LA Weekly