If you want to preserve the surprises of The Village then stop reading after this sentence, but know one important thing before buying the DVD: the film loses much of its nerve-shredding power on second viewing. Got that? Then push off, because this review will give away more than John D Rockefeller. Still here? Then you've seen it. And may be wondering, as we were, how M Night Shyamalan's sixth feature stands up to repeat viewing. After the double-twist narrative rug-pulling, can the deep pile be relaid? Not without wrinkles.
The Sixth Sense got deeper when re-viewed. Its twist was the hook which ensured people went back to watch again, discovering a simple, human story about love, bereavement and regret. And although The Village remains interesting, it isn't anywhere near as involving. There's a montage early on which sums up Shyamalan's schtick: two girls playfully sweeping a porch until the camera moves to reveal a red plant ("the bad colour") - one which was already in their full view - and they scurry to bury it. The actors are cards in an elaborate trick; the film has no integrity outside of itself. Shyamalan styles himself as another Spielberg, but he's closer to Hitchcock; just largely lacking Hitch's wit.
That's not to say you shouldn't watch The Village again. Bryce Dallas Howard shuns cliché and is superb as the blind girl who lights up her Crucible-like community, while William Hurt - a somewhat self-consciously intelligent actor - gives his most unmannered performance in years. If you're fresh to the film and embrace it, there's much to enjoy (the Little Yellow Riding Hood woods sequence is nail-tearingly scary) and thoughts are provoked about deception, human nature and ruling through fear (hello, Dubya). Your first visit to The Village is thrilling; you just may not want to stay.
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