A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Village is a 2004 M. Night Shyamalan movie in which an austere Pennsylvania hamlet sequestered from the rest of the world begins to experience a series of bizarre and violent events when a young man dares to try and venture beyond the confines of the hamlet. This is a very tense and scary thriller that may be too much for some tweens and young teens. There are scenes with nightmarish imagery, including animal corpses, and the demonic imagery of mysterious monsters in red. Some viewers may be concerned about the portrayal of a developmentally-delayed and possibly disturbed character, who is shown stabbing another character in the chest. There is talk of violent acts witnessed and experienced by the characters in the long ago past, including rape and murder, as well as talk of suicide.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
This movie is more intense than scary or gory, and will probably appeal to teens who don't like traditional horror stories. 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.
Talk to your kids 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.
Some directors have a very distinct style, such as Hitchcock, Wes Anderson, and the director of this movie, M. Night Shyamalan. What are some of the distinctive features of an M. Night Shyamalan movie, and how does this movie fit the form?
How was suspense developed? How is this similar to and different from other suspenseful or horror movies?
The movie was originally called "The Woods." Is that a better title? What is the scariest part of the movie, and why?
- In theaters: July 30, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: January 11, 2005
- Cast: Adrien Brody, Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix
- Director: M. Night Shyamalan
- Studio: Buena Vista
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: a scene of violence and frightening situations
- Last updated: October 21, 2020
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