M Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense
For M Night Shyamalan's breakthrough, The Sixth Sense (1999), the
twist ending worked well, adding another level to an already decent
film. Repeated to good effect in Unbreakable (2000), the surprise
ending became the director's signature. But with Signs (2002) it was
losing its novelty, or more accurately, it was becoming problematic as
there's no way Shyamalan could keep delivering entirely effective
twists. Signs had its moments, but the end result was a pompous and
ludicrously illogical film. And the twist ploy felt forced.
With The Village, Shyamalan continues to paint himself into a corner.
People expect the twist, but unfortunately the filmmaker seems to have
become a slave to it. The Village is a film based more on a pitch than
on a fully realised idea and solid storytelling. It's the high concept
The fact that Shyamalan seems to be trapped and / or intent upon
remaining 'the guy who does twist endings' is an exasperating
situation - as in many ways he's a skilled filmmaker, adept with
atmosphere and visuals, and able to elicit worthwhile performances
from actors. Perhaps he should relinquish some control next time round
and allow someone else to write a decent script.
The premise here concerns an isolated rural community who live a
simple, Amish-style life of farming and horticulture. The idyll is
compromised, however, by the fact that the villagers can't venture
into the surrounding woods because of "those we don't speak of".
Furthermore, the village elders - Hurt's Edward Walker, Weaver's Alice
Hunt and Gleeson's August Nicholson - decree that the towns beyond are
"wicked places where wicked people live", and most decidedly off
Understandably, some of the younger folk are restless - Noah Percy
(Brody) is a mentally disabled boy who laughs at the howls of "those
we do not speak of". Lucius Hunt (Phoenix) is a quiet young man
intrigued by the forests and aware that "there are secrets in every
corner of this village". Ivy Walker (Howard) is a blind young woman
who seems to have a sixth sense. "I see the world, Lucius Hunt, just
not as you see it," she says.
The peaceful state of the village is being fractured by weird events.
The flayed bodies of livestock are appearing, people glimpse "those we
don't speak of", and signs are left on doors. Worse still, a violent
incident takes place. The victim can only be saved if someone attempts...