film by M. Night Shyamalan
set in a turn-of-the-century village in Pennsylvania. The villagers believe that the woods surrounding their hamlet are inhabited by fell supernatural creatures, and fear to venture outside
Like most of Shyamalan's movies, the film has a Twist Ending
. It was not as well-received as his previous films and is considered by some to be the point his movies started going downhill. Still, it has a devoted fanbase, and it is quite possible it may become a Cult Classic
Rumors exist that it was partially inspired by a Young Adult
novel called Running Out of Time
Also note: As this is a suspense film, plot twists come steadily and often. So naturally, this page is spoiler-heavy.
This film provides examples of:
- Aura Vision: Ivy Walker's Disability Super Power
- Broken Aesop: On Edward Walker's part, if not the M. Night Shyamalan's. His idea seems to be, roughly, that going back to a rural life style c. 1800s will protect their children from the violence their families experienced in the cities. As the film makes plain, though, violence is not absent even in rural, simple communities, and retreating to such a past makes formerly treatable injuries life-threatening. Worse, it requires them to lie and terrorize their children.
- Broken Streak: Instantly moved Shyamalan from the next great director of his time to a laughingstock.
- Byronic Hero: Lucius
- City in a Bottle
- Close-Knit Community: The story opens with a funeral attended by all the villagers, followed by a big outdoor meal at long tables.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: There is much ado made about the colors red and yellow.
- Commune: What the village actually is.
- Creator Cameo: Near the end of the film. The camera lingers on him.
- Decoy Protagonist: Lucuius is sidelined about halfway through the movie. Ivy is the actual hero.
- Disabled Love Interest: Ivy
- Earth All Along: The film is set in the modern day, in a Hidden Elf Village.
- Empathic Environment: In the scene where Ivy and Lucius confess their love for each other, their eyes are connected by
a beam of love backlit fog on the nearby horizon behind them.
- The Fair Folk: The creatures initially appear to be vengeful spirit-creatures. But no, they're just people in suits.
- Hidden Elf Village: Purposefully created in a "wildlife sanctuary".
- In the Style of...: The plot would have made for an excellent Twilight Zone episode.
- Knight Templar: The elders collectively.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Noah's reason for stabbing Lucius.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Averted. Ivy and Lucius are good people. It's Noah who goes crazy.
- Never Trust a Trailer:
- The movie was advertised as horror, when it is closer to drama or romance.
- Some of the trailers stated that the events were taking place in the 19th century. They were trying to convince you for the sake of the movie, but they didn't have to say anything.
- Non-Indicative Name: "Those We Don't Speak Of" get talked up an awful lot.
- Nothing Is Scarier
- The Outside World: The blind protagonist is journeying to outside world beyond the titular village on a mission to retrieve medicine despite the monsters. The outside world is actually modern 90s society, and the Elders had only set up the village to appear to be in the 1800s and surrounded by unknown dangers in order to start over and protect their kin from the murders and violence they witnessed in the "real world".
- Personal Effects Reveal: How the Twist Ending commences. The Walkers open a trunk full of "forbidden objects" and stare at a photograph of themselves in younger days... wait, is that photo in color? And are those fashions from The Seventies???
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Mr. Walker, and actually all the town elders in a way. The movie actually deserves credit for not taking the tired path of mean puritan judges who won't listen to reason. True, there are still falsehoods being kept, but they don't resort to physical cruelty, violence and trials to maintain it, and at least a reason for doing so is presented in the end. This is perfectly justified; the movie is actually set in the present day, and the elders created the village as a refuge from the greed, cruelty and violence of the modern world, hoping they could raise their children to be Perfect Pacifist People through example. It mostly worked, as pretty much everyone is kind and empathetic. Unfortunately, they didn't account for the possibility of bearing children with mental illnesses; it's implied that Noah's condition would be treatable with antidepressants, but instead he ends up attacking Lucius and later Ivy.
- Also subverted. Mr. Walker strongly implies he chose to let Ivy go blind rather than get her medicine in the Towns, and Noah's parents cruelly and foolishly use solitary confinement to punish him for his uncontrollable actions, making him ultimately Go Mad from the Isolation.
- Scare Dare: The test is to stand with your back to the haunted woods; first one to give up loses.
- Scenery Porn
- Scooby-Doo Hoax: "Those we don't speak of."
- Secretly Wealthy: Implied with Edward Walker. It's his name on the huge nature preserve that the village is situated in, and he seems to have some political clout for him to be able to get a no-fly zone implemented for that area. At one point Edward talks of his brother's talent for making money, so he likely inherited his wealth.
- Tomato Surprise
- Town with a Dark Secret: The whole premise, really.
- The Trope without a Title: "Those we don't speak of."
- Uncanny Village
- Utopia Justifies the Means: The peace of the village is supposedly worth giving up modern living.
- The Wall Around the World: Separating it from highways.
- Was It Really Worth It?: The elders end up asking themselves this in the end; despite the sacrifices they both made and forced on their children (Ivy's blindness was stated to have been preventable in a modern hospital), and successfully isolating themselves from the outside world, violence sprang up in their pacifist community anyway due to Noah's mental illness. They can blame Noah's death on "Those we don't speak of" to cement the ruse, but how long can it really last? Given the interest of the guards at the end of the film, sooner or later someone is going to stumble upon it from the outside.