What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a very tense and scary thriller that may be too much for some tweens. Know your kid. While much of the scary stuff is in the audience's imagination, there are some scary jump-out-at-you surprises and some gory graphic images. Characters are attacked and killed. Some viewers may be concerned about the portrayal of a developmentally delayed and possibly disturbed character.
What's the story?
The people of the village of Covington have an uneasy truce with creatures who live in the woods that ring their town. Fear keeps most residents well inside the boundaries ringed by flags, but reckless teens dare each other to test the boundaries, and developmentally disabled Noah (Adrien Brody) doesn't always do what he's told. The story centers on sisters Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard), who's blind, and Kitty (Judy Greer). Both are drawn to Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix), but he only has eyes for Ivy. Lucius angers the creatures by venturing into the woods, and there's an attack. But then something else goes very wrong and someone else must enter the woods...
Is it any good?
Producer/writer/director M. Night Shyamalan is in some ways the victim of his own success. He's under a lot of pressure to keep pulling surprise endings out of cinematic hats. The problem is that an expected surprise is, in addition to an oxymoron, inevitably disappointing. Yet he knows how to use the camera to tell the story and has a sure control of tone and pace, alternating gasps and laughs to keep things moving. The heart of the movie is Dallas Howard (daughter of actor/director Ron Howard) as Ivy, who is always fresh, touching, and real.
The plot is a familiar yet compelling quest into the woods, a soul journey, and we get a nod to that when a young yellow ridinghood (red upsets the creatures) enters the woods on a mission of mercy. Shyamalan is not, well, afraid, to take on some big notions about fear and inhumanity and he creates characters we are willing to trust and care about.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what drew the families in the village to settle where they did in spite of the risks. They could also think about whether there were any clues in the movie that pointed to the ultimate twist. Why did Edward send Ivy? The movie was originally called "The Woods." Is that a better title? What is the scariest part of the movie and why?