Despite the mounting hype, the negative criticism, or the ridiculous expectations, I’m going to make one simple statement: M. Night’s The Village is still a success.
Now, to validate my statement I have to make some additional qualifiers. First, the cinematography is lacking compared to that of Signs, Unbreakable, and The Sixth Sense. Night’s camera work often feels whimsical and wandering, moving from one moment to the next without the heightened sense of pan and dolly seen in his previous work. Second, save three or four scenes, The Village is largely without Night’s perfected sense of terror. I don’t know if this is due to faulty timing or poor writing, but for all the terror that exists in Covington Woods, the viewer rarely feels that much is at risk. In Signs and The Sixth Sense, the constant threat of a larger fear manifesting propels the film. There is no such menace in The Village. Finally, as almost every critic has already stated, the film’s final gimmick goes too far, leaving the viewer with a sense of “hmmm” instead of “wow!".
But beyond those issues, The Village is perfect. Night’s films have always been about the evolution of character, and inside Covington Woods we are able to watch a small community respond to both fear and loss. While Night’s characters are usually responding to outside or external forces, in The Village we are able to see several layers of internal, self-made friction. It’s the least scary of Night’s movies, and it’s probably the first major sign that his plot-lines are turning stale. It is still, however, a wonderful tale of boundaries and perseverence, a story of strength and passion that has much to say about who we are and what we fear.