There really are monsters in the woods.
Bear with me. We know that the village elders impersonate monsters occasionally, we also know that Noah found out and has done it as well. However there are some inconsistencies with actions of the creatures we see on screen and what we know of different people's motives.
The village's livestock has been slaughtered since the beginning of the film, like wholesale, and this seems a very un-village elder thing to do. Several occasions on which it was done Noah was with other people as well as all the elders.
The day where Lucius went into the woods and was spotted was in the middle of broad daylight, Noah and the elders were all in town or in places where they would have been visible. Also, all of the elders had family members who might have found it a tad odd that they were gone mysteriously whenever a creature attacked.
So I contend that while the elders may have impersonated creatures at some time or place, there really were creatures in the woods.
- Actually, we DON'T see Noah on all those occasions. The 1st skinned animal appears sometime after the 1st community meal - but we're not told how long it's been. The 2nd skinned animal appears among the crops - and again, we have no specific time references. On Kitty and Christop's wedding night, we don't see Noah among the revelers. The fact that no one is apparently watching him or realized he was missing may be attributed to a "I thought you were watching him - no, I thought YOU were" scenario - especially if the Percy's have other, younger children they were watching(even if they were not shown), or specific tasks to perform at the reception. He probably returned to the party during the confusion while the boys were reporting to Edward. He may not even have been wearing the costume; I don't remember if the boys said they saw the creature, or only more skinned animals. Even if he was wearing the costume, he could have just ditched it before returning to the others. In the confusion, no one realized or thought to question him; they were just concerned with getting home safely.
- For that matter, we can't even be sure Noah left the animals where they were found. There may not be actual monsters in the woods, but there are certainly wild carnivores like foxes that might drag one of Noah's carefully-concealed kills into the open while scavenging from it. Possibly he'd been hiding kills for weeks, and only stopped concealing his leavings when he saw how the discovery of a scavenger-displaced carcass got everyone so worried.
- Alternately, some drug dealers are farming pot in the forest, have been spying on the villagers, and thought that humoring them in their superstitions was a good way to keep the Luddite whackjobs from stumbling across their cannabis plots. No need to bribe the local cops themselves, the Village elders already keep them paid off and at a distance.
The Village really isn't a "secret" as it is really the result of well-placed politicians and bureaucrats being greased.
Given the village's proximity to a highway and being in such a "public place" its existence remains undiscovered. How is that possible?
- Actually, the road we see is not a "common" road; it apparently is an access road through the Preserve. It is patrolled by Preserve rangers, who are apparently tasked with keeping out the few people who wander it, if Kevin's report to Jay and Jay's response are anything to go by ("it's an easy gig..."). That's not to say Jay doesn't know about the village, but Kevin certainly didn't.
By providing what would have to undoubtedly have been (or would be) massive bribes to public officials to make the area of village "off limits" to the public...that's how.
Still doesn't explain aircraft,though....
- Possibly the payoffs included some bribes to state fish & game authorities, who had the area declared a "no fly zone" by claiming that some highly-endangered bird species breeds there, and can't tolerate the noise of aircraft.
Well, symbolically anyway. It's one of the children's books in the Village library, which the authorities use to present the Village as an idealized society and indoctrinate young minds.
Number Six is reading this story to some children, but, in order to further taunt his captors, changes the story to deconstruct the ideals the book wanted to praise. One of his personal touches was adding the character of Noah, who is based off his encounter with "The Kid" from the episode, Living in Harmony
In the original version, brave Lucius woos helpless Ivy Walker and helps the authorities drive off cloaked, demonic invaders. Number Six's version is the one we see in the film. Lucius is more of a somber, mopey character; the authorities are suspicious, secretive figures; the monsters are a ruse designed by the authorities to maintain control
; and the Village lacks the latest medical advancements.
Lucius is modeled after the acting Number Two of the time; his getting stabbed by a character Six added in and effectively leaving the story entirely
is meant to represent that some factors are, in fact, well beyond Number Two's control.
As time goes by, more people are hired on the outside to ensure the village is scrubbed from Google Earth.