Rewind Reviews: Why The Village and Lady in the Water don’t suck
I just want to begin by saying that I passed 2,000 views yesterday! Considering 1,000 was my original goal for the summer, this makes me over the moon happy! My goal now would be 3,000, which means we have around five weeks to get 1,000 more views. We can do it. Thanks to everyone who has been clicking and reading! If you live locally, you can find my reviews being published in Blue Valley Times! Exciting stuff. Anyway….
It’s no secret that I have some pretty controversial opinions when it comes to movies (if you think my opinions up until now were pretty bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet). It’s also no secret that M Night Shyamalan sucks. Which is why I found it necessary to write about why two of Shyamalan’s most hated movies, The Village and Lady in the Water, do not suck. I even re-watched both of them recently to make sure they didn’t. Shyamalan seems to be a very hit or miss director, normally missing. The Sixth Sense is one of the most famous horror movies in recent times (“I see dead people” for those unfamiliar), and I’m pretty sure Signs got really good reviews too. But he has made some movies even I can’t defend. The Happening is the most misguided attempt at a horror movie I can remember off the top of my head. I remember first seeing it on television, and, in a state of bemused disbelief, texting my friends asking them if this movie was for cereal. Then there’s The Last Airbender, a movie based off and completely destroying the memory of my favorite cartoon. I simply do not have the gumption to write about that one in detail now. Maybe one day.
But for now I want to focus on The Village and Lady in the Water. I didn’t go to the movies very often as a kid, but for some reason I saw both of these not-kid movies in the theater. I heavily enjoyed them both. They both star precious Bryce Dallas Howard, and I still think she did a fine job in both of them, particularly The Village.
We’ll start with that one. The movie presumably takes place in the nineteenth century or something, set in a small, tranquil, somewhat annoyingly old fashioned village. The people dress like pilgrims and the men work while the women cook and they still square dance at weddings and there’s not a pixel of technology in sight, so yeah, old. This village is cut off from all other civilization, surrounded by a forest off limits to everyone. Bony creatures with long, deadly, yellowish spikes dressed in bright red cloaks and hoods inhabit the woods, keeping everyone within the confines of the village. The people live in peace with these creatures, as long as they stay out of the woods, provide a meat offering every day, and do not let the color red appear anywhere inside the village.
So I guess it’s ironic that the main character is red-headed Ivy (Howard), a blind girl who bears a walking stick reminiscent to Mary Bo Peep. Ivy is in love with strong and silent Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who wishes to travel into the woods to distant towns to retrieve medicine for his ailing mother. In a time of great danger and fear, as the red creatures have begun nightly raids on the village, Ivy and Lucius fall in love, and are willing to do anything to keep the other safe.
Judging by rottentomatoes, most people felt the movie was boring and the twist ending it all built up to wasn’t worth it. I’m here to tell you they’re wrong. Even as a kid, exposed to nothing but exciting movies designed to hold a kid’s short attention span, I was deeply enthralled in the movie’s somber universe. True, as a kid I was probably more terrified of the red creatures than any adult would be. But even on my recent re-watch I found the creatures to be appropriately creepy. Several of the scarier sequences were still rather frightening, most notably Ivy sticking her hand out of her house into the darkness, reaching for Lucius, knowing that a red creature has invaded the village. After a long gap of suspense, BOO, the red creature appears, much closer to Ivy’s hand than Shyamalan lead the audience to believe it would be. Later, the movie’s climax, which terrified the poo out of me when I was a kid, still gave me a few frightful chills. I don’t know about you, but this is one of the last horror movie creatures I’d want to encounter in real life.
The movie is filmed secretively. The village is too innocent, the characters too old fashioned for there to not be some deeper mystery lying just beyond the audience’s grasp. I suppose this is what held my attention. The acting is overall solid. Putting myself in the actors’ shoes, I would have felt cripplingly dorky dressed in those pilgrim costumes and speaking in formal old fashioned ways, so kudos to them for enduring that. In my opinion the ending twist does not disappoint. The critics can mope all they want about it. What were they expecting, a Sixth Sense level twist? Hmm, I guess that’s pretty understandable. It’s not a movie for the history books. Don’t go into the movie expecting life-changing greatness, and you won’t be disappointed. Should the critics have skinned it alive and offered to the red creatures? Heck no. Heeeeeck no.
Now we move on to Lady in the Water. This one is a little weird. Basically humankind has stopped taking the advice of angels (who in this movie are hilariously referred to as ‘narfs’) and so every now and then a narf (heh heh) will travel to Earth, always appearing in a body of water, and will influence certain people or events around them to benefit mankind. Howard plays the narf Story, who appears in the pool of an average hotel in Philadelphia and is discovered by the hotel handyman Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti). Story is here to find a writer whose work will one day influence a young boy who grows up to become President, bringing great changes to the world. Story is hunted by a ‘scrunt’ (not much better than narf), a ferocious dog made out of grass for camouflage.
The movie was released back in 2006, which means I was ten or eleven when I saw it. As a little kid it thrilled me, and I was excited to watch it again when I had the idea to write this post, ready to defend this movie from all critical abuse.
I can’t do it.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie still had some pretty touching moments, such as Story’s interactions with the aforementioned writer (played by Shyalalamamalanaman himself). The movie is a cool idea, just executed all wrong.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did when I was ten, but I still expected to enjoy it! There’s really too much to complain about here. Basically the characters are all stupid and unrealistic and the plot takes way too many convoluted “twists”. Think of it as a roller coaster. Like some movies, roller coasters depend on twists to keep them fun and thrilling. But this movie is like a roller coaster so overstuffed with twists that eventually you have to vomit from constantly being thrown left and right with no restraint, no matter how prepared for it you think you are.
But the worst part of the movie is I was completely ready to defend Shyamamamam and now I can’t even do that. I guess it just goes to show how bad he really is. I tried to do him a favor! Wow I’m pissed.
(This is me after I watched it. I went into the Avatar State because I was sooo mad.)
Let’s just ignore Lady in the Water. I still think The Village is a great movie. I no longer think Slamalamlam is a good director, though. Not that I did after The Last Airbender, but now, it’s personal. It looks like his career somehow survived The Last Airbender, as he making a movie starring Will and Jaden Smith coming out 2013. Will must have some faith in it, especially since he’s letting his own spawn near it. Maybe it will be a miracle return-to-form and be his best movie since The Sixth Sense. Either way, I think after this post I’m going to take a vow to never watch a Shyamalan movie ever again as long as I live.
The Village – 4/5 stars
Lady in the Water – lol/5 stars