I remember the night quite clearly. My friend Mark and I wanted to go see a movie, but it was late. The only feature yet to start was something called The Sixth Sense. We were in Indiana, we were bored, and we had some disposable income. So we took a chance.
About two hours later Mark and I sat alone in the theater, staring at the screen as the last of the credits rolled past. I imagine that our mouths were slightly agape. We hardly looked at each other until the lights came up and attendants in their quasi-tuxedos started trolling for trash. I don't think we even talked until we got to the parking lot, at which time I offered an illuminating critique of the film along the lines of "What just happened?"
Such was my introduction to the storytelling prowess of one M. Night Shyamalan.
About a billion people had a similar experience and The Sixth Sense catapulted Shyamalan into the top tier of moviemakers. He's told us about a boy who sees dead people (The Sixth Sense), a regular guy who is really a hero of comic book proportions (Unbreakable), and a pastor who struggles with his faith while aliens invade Earth (Signs). His latest cinematic offering, The Village, is set in an idyllic hamlet circa the early 20th century—think calico skirts and bowler hats—where settlers have to deal with threats from the ominous creatures that prowl their borders.
Life in the village is simple, egalitarian, vaguely religious, and genuinely joyful. But visual cues such as mustard yellow robes, torches, and the bare branches of the forest suggest that this world is as eerie as it is inviting. When skinned animals are found around the community and large red slashes appear on doors, a violent confrontation between man and beast seems right ...1
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